Easy and healthy snacks for your children

a person eating popcorn while watching a movie

This week sees the launch of the NHS Food Scanner app. The app where you can scan your children’s snack products and find healthier alternatives.

Review of the NHS Food Scanner app

I gave it a try and here are some thoughts (followed by some of my own snack tips).

What was good?

  • Easy to download
  • Free
  • Easy to scan products
  • Fat, salt and sugar in products is clearly displayed
  • Doesn’t require you to enter lots of personal data to get access

What isn’t so good?

  • It only looks at fat, salt and sugar. I would like to see fibre in there too (and vitamins and minerals although that might be information overload
  • The swaps for sweets were other sweets, just ones with sweeteners
  • There were no non processed snack swaps for the foods I scanned – fruit, veg sticks, nuts, a little sandwich weren’t included
  • The swaps looked quite expensive so would not be great options for lots of people
  • The app doesn’t address some of the reasons we parents reach for these snacks – I know that is asking a lot of an app but perhaps including costs and time to prepare, where the foods can be purchased from and other ideas for other rewards or treats would be good.

The bottom line

The app gives good insight into what’s in products without you spending ages reading the labels. It might also give you some ideas about other products available. However, the products suggested are not ‘eat as much as you like products’ they should still be considered as part of a healthy balanced diet.

So what should our children have as snacks?

Think of snacks as ways to get nutrients and foods into the diet which you haven’t had as meals. eg if they have only had 4 portions of fruit and veg in their meals, add one for a snack, if they haven’t had 5 portions of starchy carbohydrates, add one for a snack.

Snacks are not just ways to fill up our children (or keep them quiet!). They are vital nourishment. It can be helpful to remember this when planning snack purchases – what does the snack give them?

Always let your child choose whether they want the snack or not. You provide it and state the time and they can say no. If they don’t seem hungry at meals, reduce the size of the snacks. Avoid snacks within 90 minutes of a meal.

Some quick and cheap snack ideas

  • Homemade plain popcorn – it’s very cheap to make, takes minutes and keeps for a couple of days in an airtight container. Plus it’s a wholegrain and FUN!
  • Fruit
  • Vegetable sticks with homous
  • Plain yoghurt (and fruit)
  • Homemade scotch pancakes – make with no or only a tiny bit of sugar and salt (add raisins if you like for the over 5s) – these freeze really well and can be made in child appropriate sizes – I like to make a double or triple batch and freeze with baking paper between them so I can take out what I need
  • Cheese cubes
  • Toast and peanut butter
  • Nuts – unsalted and not sweetened (only give whole nuts to children over 5)
  • Savoury or fruit based muffins (there’s a recipe for apple ones in the ebook)

As a mum I know the challenges. Being a parent is hard work. Prepacked snacks are sometimes a must. There is no shame in these. I find prepacking my own snack pots (eg nuts or pancakes (in the freezer) helpful for those grab moments!

If you would like more support around your child’s diet, please get in touch.

Disclaimer: This article does not provide individual personalised advice. It is meant for information only.

Published by Aliya Porter

An experienced Registered Nutritionist helping you to live healthily without breaking the bank or chaining you to the kitchen.

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