Grandparents Teach, too

Kids can make better snack choices

Sabin, DaVIS, HETRICK, ANDEREGG, Macalady, walker, darling and Katers

Vacation meal and snack times provide a time to encourage healthy habits and conversation. When wise snacking is added to three nutritious meals a day, adults can achieve the total recommended daily guidelines for healthy American children.

Otherwise, the government guidelines can be a challenge.


Over 27% of American children’s daily calories come from snacking also known as grazing. Creative snacking can be helpful. The food could be something you had planned to offer at mealtime anyway as part of the five basic groups on a plate: about half fruits and vegetables, half grains and protein, a a glass milk, yogurt. a few pieces of cheese.

This plan of including tasty fruit and vegetable snacks is especially useful if fruits and vegetables are often left on the plate or a big point of contention at mealtime.

A snack that satisfies hunger might be cut up fruits and vegetables like oranges, bananas, pears, apples, thin shavings of carrots, or frozen peas with just a small amount of cereal or crackers. Add a little cheese, yogurt,or small piece of turkey. Families may want to replace crackers with whole grain bread pieces, pockets or wraps and a little peanut butter, if there is no allergy. Recommendations are five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Three meals plus three nutritious snacks

(including one at bedtime) equals meeting the daily nutritional guidelines.

Water or milk

Another suggestion is to provide water or milk during mealtimes and snacks rather than sugary juice or soda. Drinking water rather than soda is cheaper, caffeine and sweetener free, and will become a habit.

Nutritionists suggest families set a good example. Eat a small snack and drink water or skim milk with your children. Have your snack at the kitchen table rather in front of the TV, phone, or computer.

You may like to play a game like I Spy Something Red or some other color to spark conversation. Another variation is to count the number of items of a color you can find in a room.

Alphabet and category games are also conversation starters. How many words can you think of that start with the letter B? What animals can you think of that live on a farm?

You can teach young children to read numbers on nutrition labels. Four year olds can look for smaller number of sugar grams and become very aware of what they eat. These little food detectives can compare labels on boxed cereals, soup, processed meats, frozen meals, and macaroni and cheese to find the lowest amounts of sweeteners and salt.

For more ways to help children be healthy, successful, and love a lifetime of learning see grandparentsteachtoo.org; live and pod casts at wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons, Pinterest and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.