In the world of deciphering nutrition facts, there are some things that can slip past even the most discerning eyes. Parents place a lot of emphasis on the nutrition in their children’s meals, but when it comes to snacks, sometimes even foods that sound nutritious may be wreaking havoc on their otherwise healthy diet.
Think you know which snacks are best? Take this quiz below and test your nutrition knowledge. Pick the healthier snack for your family:
Granola bar or Trail Mix
Sports Drinks or Flavored Seltzers
Popcorn or Pretzels
Sandwich Crackers or Crackers and Cheese
Smoothies or 100 Percent Fruit Juice
Regular Peanut Butter or Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
Trail Mix: Many granola bars are highly processed, often containing refined grains and sugary additives.Trail mix contains foods in a more whole form (nuts, dried fruits, dark chocolate).
Flavored Seltzers: Minimal additives make this a better alternative than sports drinks that add calories with no nutritional benefit. Most children do not require sports drinks…even when playing sports.
Popcorn: Air popped popcorn is a good source of fiber, and you can limit the additional butter when you make it yourself at home. Pretzels are easy to over eat and have no nutrients that your body isn’t seeing elsewhere in the day. And watch those portions: even the snack packs of pretzels often have 2 or 3 servings per a bag.
Crackers and Cheese: The pre-packaged sandwich crackers are loaded with sodium and often higher in fat than their DIY counterparts.
100 Percent Fruit Juice: Though I don’t recommend juice often, smoothies can pack 2 to 4 times the amount of calories than a single serving of 100% of fruit juice. Some smoothies do start with healthy components like fruit and yogurt, but most have a significant amount of added sugar to boost the flavor. If your kids love smoothies, let them help you make them with a mix of fruit, ice, and low-fat yogurt.
Regular Peanut Butter: Ever compare a jar of regular peanut butter to a jar of the reduced-fat version? If you have, you will see there is only a difference of about 10 calories. The reduced-fat peanut butter typically has additional sugar to compensate for the missing flavor. The more natural version with full fat will leave appetites satisfied for longer.
Moral of the story? Turn the label around to see what and how much you are actually getting in your child’s snacks. In addition, new research suggests that children will have the greatest satiety (and decreased intake) from snacks that combine vegetables and protein. So serve up some celery with peanut butter, or carrots and cheese, and keep your kids on their way to a healthful day.