Healthy Snack Ideas
Any parent or childcare provider knows that children seem hungry all the time. Snacking healthy can be challenging, especially when on-the-go or when trying to feed kids quickly.
As pediatric dentists, we recommend these low sugar snacks:
- Pre-washed cut fresh fruit: grapes, berries, oranges, apples, peaches, plums
- Popcorn- if age appropriate
- Meat cubes or slices: can be served plain or rolled with cheese for easy feeding
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Pickles or olives
- Whole wheat crackers
- Cheese cubes, sticks, or slices
- Pre-washed cut veggies: carrots, celery, edamame, cucumber slices, squash and zucchini slices
- Hummus with pita or veggies for dipping
- Unsweetened dry cereal
The American Heart Association and The American Academy of Pediatrics are now advising that children only consume SIX TEASPOONS OF SUGAR a day, which is 24 grams of sugar. Added sugars are everywhere, so be mindful of reading labels and watching for hidden sugars. Some hidden sugars include: fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, lactose and sucrose. Condiments such as ketchup and dipping sauces are common sources of hidden unnecessary sugars.
Juice is a common source of increased sugar consumption. Always check the label for grams of sugar in a serving of juice. The AAP recommends no juice for children less than 6 months, only four ounces of diluted juice for children 6-12 months, and no more than 6 ounces of juice for children over age one. Juice should only be served with a meal, and should never be given in a sippy cup (outside of mealtime), or any device that makes the juice easily transportable, because this increases the likelihood of sipping habits. More frequent exposure increases the risk of dental cavities, and it makes it harder to keep track of how much has been consumed.
Sticky, sugary, and gummy snacks should be avoided. They are high in added sugars, and their sticky texture allows them to adhere to teeth, dramatically increasing cavity risk. Fruit snacks (including organic), gummy bears, Skittles, Starburst, Fruit Roll-Ups, and even raisins are very sticky and should not be eaten often. An 8 oz. package of fruit snacks that contain an average of 5-7 pieces has 10 grams of sugar, or TWO AND A HALF teaspoons.
Please educate your preteens and teens about hidden sugars. Sodas, sports drinks, and flavored waters are common with these age groups, but are sources high in added sugar. These drinks are often acidic, which puts the teeth at risk for erosion and dental cavities.