Many children with active metabolisms tend to eat frequently through the day as their bodies require them to eat more often to make up for the frequent burn. The key factor being their stomachs can’t cope with three heavy or adult-sized meals a day. One must not force or impose an adult eating pattern on children. A child under the age of four or five might eat meals varying from three to even fourteen times per day with average of around five to six times.
The size of the meal consumed will vary through the day with the thumb rule being that the more close placed the meals are, the smaller the meals will be. On an average, children consume the same amounts of nutrients, irrespective of the number of times they eat in the day. What is of prime importance is paying less attention on the number of times and more on what the child eats. Sensible snacks are thus important as they provide adequate calories in nutritious form contributing little to tooth decay.
One can introduce fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, peanut butter-cheese sandwiches into daily snacks. Try thinking differently and inventive by adding sugarless dried cereal in melted chocolate and placing the mix in innovatively shaped cupcake liners and serving chilled. One can try a yogurt shake with fruit of choice and some essence added to enhance the taste. Try the hit combo of peanut butter with dried raisins and bananas. Jelly can be mixed with a whole range of fruits in whole or dried form.
Ice cream cone need not be necessarily used exclusively for ice-cream, these cones can be filled with cheese, veggie and tomato chopped or a tuna fish salad which a great snack on the move. One can involve the child in planning and building their own meals from sandwiches, cheese cubes, vegetables and dried fruit or serve the meal in innovative plates and cups. Make snack-making an exciting and educational activity like involving the child in shelling peas or making bread and then use what you have prepared as part of the snack. One can fill a cake tin with an assortment of finger foods of raw veggies, fruit, potato chips, mini sandwiches, cold cuts and let the child make his pick.
Avoid pre-packaged snacks and those from vending machines as they are simply dense in empty calories rich in unhealthy fat and sugar, something the child can well do without.
Drinks are one of the best kinds of snacks, especially if they are milk-based and low fat variety as they contain protein, calcium, iron and B-vitamins which is very nutritious. Raw fruit juices are also good as they contain natural sugars and loads of Vitamin C. These can served in interesting shaped cups or glasses with a different shaped straw to spruce it up. Try making a smiling face out of tomato on top of a wholegrain sandwich or serve fruits cut in unusual shapes to keep up the interest.