The past year has been especially challenging for Hong Kong’s children, with homeschooling on and off then on again. They are constantly having to adapt to new situations while staying focused on academic studies. This takes a toll on their general well-being. One excellent way to support children is by providing them with healthy food. Here are some tips on healthy snacks for energetic kids.
Good nutrition is absolutely essential to children’s overall well-being, and snacks play a vital part in keeping kids awake, alert and clear headed throughout the day. What children eat at break times can have a real impact on their ability to learn, especially online.
What constitutes a balanced snack?
Nutritious choices include those foods rich in healthy carbohydrates and fibre that bring a constant intake of “good” sugar to the brain and healthy fats like omega 3, which helps our brain function well. Nuts and seeds, when there is no allergy, can be a great option, as can whole wheat bread with hummus, peanut butter or raw honey. Fruits or healthy granola bars are also good choices. A sliced apple served with peanut butter or raw honey is another good example, and kids love it. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring!
Which foods should be avoided?
To help kids stay energized, it’s best to steer clear of saturated fats, most of which come from animal sources – fatty meats, cheeses, etc. – but are also present in fried foods and packaged snacks such as crisps, cookies or crackers. Saturated fats are digested slower than their unsaturated counterparts, therefore the body has to work harder and for longer to digest them. As a result, the energy required for this process isn’t available for anything else, and for a few hours after eating, your child may feel sleepy and might struggle to concentrate.
Another ingredient to avoid is added sugar. It’s true that our brains need sugar to work well, but it’s better to opt for natural sugars contained in things such as fruits and raw, organic honey instead of processed sugars that are added by food manufacturers. Not only are added sugars bad for our health but they often make us feel low in energy and unable to focus. Again, the effects can last a number of hours and can even cause further sugar cravings. Added sugars can be found in foods like chocolate, pastries and most processed foods that look “good” on the pack but actually contain a lot of hidden ingredients. When shopping for snacks, I always suggest reading not only the sugar content given on the label but the full list of ingredients, where you’ll often find extra forms of added sugar.
Dr Emilie Berthet Clairet is a practitioner at the Vitality Center in Central https://www.holisticnutritionhk.com/
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