Many parents find it a challenge to get their kids to eat healthy foods. In her last report as a part of Time Warner Cable News Fit Kids initiative, our Jill Urban outlined some common misconceptions about healthy foods and explained what to look for when shopping. In part two of her story, she asked an expert what healthy staples parents should stock up on.
We asked pediatrician and child obesity specialist Dr. Dyan Hes what some good healthy go-to foods are that parents should always have on hand.
She says fruits and vegetables are often the best snacks, but if your kids will not eat them, try dressing them up.
“Make it look attractive. Kids like things that are fun. You can put grapes on toothpicks or open a clementine and make little patterns with them. Or make a flower with a grape in the center. Put stuff on skewers for kids,” Dr. Hes suggests.
Speaking of fruit, she says fruit leathers are also a great snack. Look for the ones made from naturally pressed fruit or fruit products. Avoid those with sugar and artificial sweeteners. If your kids like chips, natural fruit crisps offer the crunch of a potato chip, but in a healthy way.
Another good crunchy snack is a graham cracker.
“They don’t have too much sugar,” says Dr. Hes. “Most are made with whole grains now. You can find them in the super market and it’s a pretty big portion - 2 sheets of graham cracker is a serving, so kids feel like they have a really good snack.“
Most baked cheese crackers are also made with whole grains and they do come in portion-controlled sizes. She says most granola bars are good to have on hand as well, just read the labels. Look at the serving size and the sodium and sugar content.
Low fat dairy products make a great snack too.
“Cheese sticks are very popular in my house, cheese wheels,” says Dr. Hes. “I try to recommend getting low fat cheese sticks, not too much salt of course. They are a great healthy snack for kids. They provide them with calcium, they are easy to carry in your bag and most kids enjoy the flavor.”
Finally, many parents offer raisins as a healthy snack, but instead, Dr. Hes says go for dried apricots.
“A serving of raisins versus a serving of dried apricots – the raisins have double the amount of sugar and if kids are offered dried apricots, they usually love them,” she says.