The summer is ending and the back to school frenzy is starting up. Moms nationwide are wondering, “What should I feed my kids for snack?”

If your kids are like most, they come home from school and head straight to the kitchen. This is not surprising as many school lunch periods start as early as 10:30 am; these kids are ravenous after 5 hours of “fasting”. Sometimes they even have an after school activity further delaying their next feeding!

So what should you do when your child comes home starving

You first need to answer a few questions. What time is your child’s lunch period? Are they served a snack in school? Kids’ eating schedules vary depending on age. For example, younger kids generally have a mid-morning snack while older kids don’t. Your kids should never go more than four hours without eating something. If your older child isn’t allotted a set snack time, consider sending a portable snack in their backpacks. Many of my patients eat their snacks in between classes.

Next you need to know if they are eating their entire lunch or throwing most of it away. Don’t assume that your kids eat everything you send in with them. If you think your kids are not eating lunch, call the teacher. Don’t be afraid to express your concerns.

Do they go to an after school program that serves snacks? Can you send a snack with them? These answers will help determine how hungry they will be when they get home from school.

What time do you normally serve dinner? If dinner is early (around 5:00-5:30), afternoon snack should be somewhat small. If you serve dinner late, you should offer a large afternoon snack.

Finally, sit down as a family and create a list of healthy snacks. Be sure to discuss portions sizes so your kids understand that even healthy foods have calories. Take your kids shopping with you so they can see all the healthy choices the supermarket has to offer. The more involved your kids are, the more likely they are to eat the healthy snacks you offer. Offer healthy choices instead of dictating which snacks your kids eat.

In summary, your kids should eat every four hours. Figure out their schedules and fit in snacks at appropriate intervals. Ideally, snacks should consist of a combination of protein and fiber. Avoid sugary snacks, like 100 calorie packs, that simply spike blood sugar levels and cause your kids to have a sugar crash.

Here are some snack ideas to get you started.

-Air popped or 94% FF popcorn

-Apple slices and low fat cheese

-Cold grapes already pulled off the stem

-Baked tortilla chips & salsa

-Hummus with low fat pita chips

-Cut up raw veggies with fat-free dip

-Low fat yogurt or cottage cheese with pineapple chunks

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