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Choosing Healthy Snacks

If the snacks at your home have usually been cookies, doughnuts, and soft drinks, it's time for a change. Two or 3 snacks a day are an important part of your child's overall nutrition, so you need to make them just as nutritionally sound as her regular meals, while contributing to an overall program aimed at weight loss. Planning snacks ahead of time is helpful - prepackage some appropriate servings to have ready for kids in their lunches or when they get home from school. This is an opportunity to teach healthy choices and practices.

If you keep the pantry, refrigerator, and kitchen table stocked with plenty of low-fat, low-sugar snacks from the 5 major food groups, that's what she'll reach for. Of course, occasional treats like ice cream are fine. But for those snacks that your child typically grabs on her own, make sure they're nutritious ones such as:

* Fruit * Fresh strawberries * Low-fat/frozen yogurt * Air-popped popcorn * Celery stalks * Low-fat cheese * Low-fat oatmeal cookies * Frozen juice bars (without added sugar) * Cucumber slices
* Crackers * Frozen bananas * Sugar-free cereals * Baked potato chips * Unsalted pretzels * Bran muffins * Dried raisins or apricots

Adding a protein food with these snacks can make them more satisfying. Try adding a boiled egg, cheese stick, yogurt, natural peanut butter, or nuts (if your child is old enough so choking is not a concern).

A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)