March is National Nutrition Month®, a time to learn about the importance of informed food choices and healthy physical activities. This year’s theme is “Beyond the Table,” and this month, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite source of nutrition beyond the table: snacks!

It’s Okay for Kids to Snack

We’ve all heard it, the inevitable call from the other room: “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”

The fact is: kids need to eat more often than adults. Children’s stomachs are smaller, and they are using a lot of energy during the day for fun activities, learning, and even growth. When children are going through a growth spurt, they may want to eat and snack more.

Toddlers and preschoolers should be munching on something every two to three hours, or around five to six times per day. School-age children should eat every three to four hours, or about four to five times per day.

Snacking throughout the day can help kids meet their nutritional needs, and it can give parents an opportunity to feed them balanced options from across several food groups – such as grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy.

Smart Snacking

Here are some quick snacking tips to keep your family full of energy and nutrients.

  • Carry snacks with you. Beware of “hanger.” If kids go too long without eating, they can become irritable and may overeat at their next eating opportunity.
  • Aim for carbohydrates and protein. Snacks with these items have staying power and will keep your kids fuller for longer.
  • Please your picky eater. Offer your picky eater a new food that includes something they already know they like. For example, if your child likes peanut butter but isn’t sure about celery, offer them “ants on a log” (a celery stick topped with peanut butter and raisins). Let them choose what and how much they will eat.
  • Include your children. When preparing your healthy snacks, let your kids help. Use this time to teach them about the importance of food safety, share family recipes, and bond.

Need Help?

Making nutrition a focus can be hard, especially with the stressors of day-to-day life. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are experts in nutrition and have been professionally certified to help individuals and communities with their health. RDNs offer personalized nutrition advice, factoring in your health history, favorite foods, exercise habits, and more. They can assist with management of chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as allergies and/or food sensitivities.

Ask your primary care provider (PCP) about seeing an RDN at your next appointment.

National Nutrition Month® is sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Written by Beth Jones, RDN.

  • J.R. Franco, headshot
    Beth Jones, RDN
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    ['Dental Health Center at International Circle ']