Eating healthy snacks doesn't have to be so hard. Image via Unsplash.

Eating healthy snacks doesn’t have to be so hard. Image via Unsplash.

Snack guide: How to ensure kids are eating good this school break

The school holidays tend to be taxing. Here’s how you can ensure that at least snacking is healthy and easy going.

Eating healthy snacks doesn't have to be so hard. Image via Unsplash.

Eating healthy snacks doesn’t have to be so hard. Image via Unsplash.

Screaming kids, asking “Are we there yet?” in the back seat of a car with another 300km of the road trip to go. Endless days that need to be filled with feel-good activities. A revolving door of house guests and friends coming and going. For a time that is supposed to be about rest and relaxation, the school holidays can often be stressful for parents.

The last thing that anyone needs to be added to the agenda is spending any extra time, energy, and brain power on preparing meals and snacks for the ravenous hordes.

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A June holiday snack guide for parents

Although children’s health and nutrition always need to be a priority, the holidays are also a time when treats can (and should) be enjoyed. After all, what is a holiday without biltong for the road trip, ice creams on the beach when the sun is out, or marshmallows getting slowly incinerated on the braai? However, with routines changing during this period, it is often helpful to plan ahead, to ensure that any unhealthy habits and dodgy snacks that sneak in are a once-off rather than the new norm.

“It’s not about grand gestures or cutting out all the bad things completely or forever, as this is not sustainable, never mind boring. Treats and fun things can always be part of a healthy and nutritious lifestyle – just not all the time! We believe in trying to make small changes that can easily be incorporated into everyday life – because, at the end of the day, lots of little things add up to big things,” says Greig Jansen, Chief Executive Officer at the PURA Beverage Company.

Below he shares his tips on little things that can be easily incorporated each day. These all add up to making a bigger difference, allowing healthy practices to still be followed, without losing all the fun.

healthy snacks school holidays
Make sure your kids are still snacking healthily this school holidays. Image: Provided

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Swap out the treats where you can

Everyone loves a good treat from time to time, and kids are no exception. However, being more health-conscious doesn’t mean that food needs to be boring or tasteless.

When it comes to sugar, moderation rather than abstention is key, and there are lots of options for snacks that taste good without all the guilt.

Get creative and look at healthy alternatives to keep in the house or pack as padkos during this time. Try swapping out chocolate for date balls, for example, or ice cream for frozen yogurt. Popcorn is a good substitute for chips, while mixed nuts can be jazzed up with raisins, dried cranberries, and other dried fruits to be a tasty substitute for sweets.

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Planning ahead

During the school holidays, parents often find themselves spending more time in the kitchen preparing snacks for their kids. While it may sound like a schlep at the beginning, spending a bit of time prepping meal plans at the outset will not only keep your pockets happy but will also ensure that healthy, well-balanced meals can easily be whipped up, with less fuss in the long term.

The rule of thumb is to include fresh produce in every meal. Try to prepare one dish that everyone can enjoy, and where possible, consider meals like tray bakes which can all be made in one dish. Not only will this cut down the amount of time spent in the kitchen, but this is also a way to approach the fussy eaters.

Often kids are more active during the holidays and, being at home all the time, will pester for food as they get hungrier more often.

Planning scheduled meals, rather than eating on the run will prevent kids’ blood sugar levels from dropping, which often results in them becoming emotional or having mood swings – the last thing any parent needs to be added to the mix. Incorporating substantial snacks throughout the day is an easy life hack that will also go a long way in preventing this from happening.

Sugary drinks

Fizzy drinks are the greatest source of sugar in kids’ diets and are the biggest driver of the dreaded sugar high and the resultant bouncing off the walls.

A can of carbonated cooldrink can contain up to eight spoons of sugar – imagine that as a pile of sugar sitting at the bottom of the cup! Look for alternative sodas that are lower in sugar, and ideally which are also preservative and colourant-free.

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