Smart Snacks Pave the Way to a Healthier Generation
Because snacking has reached an all-time high for the average child (27% of total daily calories), it’s become increasingly important that children are provided healthy options. If given the choice, they will choose cookies, cakes, chips and candy rather than “smart snacks,” which better support mental and physical development, and help prevent disease and obesity later in life.
Several years ago, the USDA created the Smart Snacks in School guidelines to help ensure students are offered practical and flexible selections for healthier eating. The science-based guidelines were developed through feedback from parents, teachers, school food service professionals, and the food and beverage industry, combined with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They help ensure the healthfulness of America’s youth by providing nutritious food throughout the school day.
Smart Snacking Instills Healthy Habits
By consistently offering foods high in nutritional value, children learn to make the right food choices as they grow older. Studies indicate that by teaching children to be health-conscious and choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, they not only gain less weight, but they also have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.
Snacking is Important for Developing Brains and Bodies
Healthful meals and snacks at school provide the required nutrients for a growing body and deliver the complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein needed for sustained energy and focus. According to the American Dietetic Association, information comprehension and retention are greater when students’ bodies are consistently fueled. Another healthy snack bonus – there’s noticeable improvement of a student’s mood.
Ideas to Promote Healthy Choices
You can encourage youth to make healthy choices at school or at home by:
Children need essential nutrients delivered through healthful diets of nutrient-dense foods. A little education goes a long way. Let’s arm the youth of today to make healthy food choices for life.