Healthy food is not only important for the three main meals a day for growing bodies and minds. Often times preschool aged children will attend programs that provide snacks, yet these snacks are usually high carb, simple sugar, low fiber and sometimes contain food coloring. These types of snacks usually rate about a 5 on a scale of 1-10 because they do offer water, milk, fruit, veggies and nuts. However, children feel the effects of these simple carbs too quickly and end up with a huge burst of energy and then they start to crash and become grumpy, tired, irritable etc. you get the picture. Is this the child’s fault for eating the snack? No! We adults should be keeping up with what nutrition young bodies and minds need not just at home, but in every environment, children engage in. When children are in preschool they are using a lot of cognitive and physical energy to get through their day. They are learning and gaining new knowledge and let’s face it, that is not always easy work, it is demanding and challenging and requires the right kinds of fuel for children to keep the energy they need at a level appropriate for their growing minds and bodies.
I like to provide organic, gluten free and dairy free snacks that consist of fruits, vegetables, gluten-free whole grain crackers, nuts, seeds and nut butter along with water. The snacks I have planned are like mini meals because I want children to consume healthy foods for longer attention, steady and consistent energy and I want to expose them to foods they may not have tried at home before. I have had students who enjoy eating carrots at school and not at home just because it was served differently, but sometimes I have introduced a fruit or vegetable that a child has not tried yet and sure enough they realize it tastes great and want more!
When we simply don’t have the sugary, food colored simple carb options available children don’t think about them or want them. When children can be a part of making their snacks and serving themselves they learn how to eat healthily, how not to waste food and, how to read their body’s signals when they are full and satisfied. The energy output is much more even-paced and moods improve and stay uplifted throughout their time at school. This doesn’t mean that if children are exposed to all those sugary goodies once in a while that they will not want them, but not having them around can really curtail the desire for them. And don’t we all want children to grow up healthy, strong and capable? Let’s feed them organic healthy snacks without the sugar and food coloring.
Heidi Scott is an experienced Teacher with a Master’s in Teaching. Please walk, ride a bike or drive to The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂