This post was updated on January 25, 2020.
When kids come home from school, they can be pretty hungry. You may be inclined to offer those 100 calorie snack packs, especially if you’re concerned about your child’s eating habits or growth.
In this article, I’m breaking down 100 calorie snack packs, including:
- How they rate in terms of satisfaction
- What can you use to “beef them up” so they are filling for your child
- Why overeating can occur when you rely on 100 calorie snack packs
If you’re like me, you’ve heard this plenty of times after school: “Mom, I’m home!…What can I have to eat?”
Many kids come home after a day of school feeling hungry (or even hangry) and looking for food. They’ve had a day of bustling activity with little time and attention spent on eating.
In this day of maximized learning and optimizing for standardized test scores, nutrition in schools, including enough time to eat, has suffered.
Are Low Calorie Snacks Enough?
Surely, those individually packaged, pre-portioned, calorie-controlled 100- calorie snack packs are perfect for the hungry student running up the driveway, right?
Low calorie snacks, particularly 100 calorie snack packs, may not be enough for the growing child. Often, these snacks are low in protein, and may be higher in sugar and carbs.
Not exactly the stuff that will help your child get to the next meal time.
Instead, your child needs a power snack.
What is a Power Snack?
A power snack contains a variety of macronutrients, such as protein, fat and carbs, along with micronutrient like vitamins and minerals.
This combination of nutrients fill your child’s belly and are more likely to leave him satisfied after eating.
Low calorie snacks are everywhere. It’s not uncommon to find them in school lunch boxes, diaper bags, the commuter lunch sack, and in America’s pantries.
Because they are pre-portioned and calorie-controlled, some parents believe they must be good for kids. Especially if they worry about how much their child eats or are worried about their kid’s weight.
However, for children who are hungry, 100 calorie snack packs may not be the best choice.
100 Calorie Snack Packs May Lead to Overeating
In my experience, few children get full and satisfied after consuming one low calorie snack pack.
When kids are left feeling hungry, they proceed to other snacks or more snack packs to fill their bellies. After-school snacking can turn into a scavenger hunt for food in an effort to feel satisfied, or full.
The result? Overeating and nutrient-poor choices.
How to Make Low Calorie Packaged Snacks Work
If your pantry is replete with 100 calorie snack packs, use them to your child’s advantage.
Pair them with other healthy foods, such as a glass of milk (or milk substitute) or a piece of fruit. They can be part of a nutritious snack, and you may have peace until dinner-time!
For example, if you’re offering a cookie snack pack, pair it with a glass of milk.
If you’re serving a cracker or other grain-based snack pack, add fruit or cheese.
Better yet, use a “mini-meal” mentality when it comes to snacking. This tactic may satisfy your child’s hunger and improve the overall nutrient quality of their diet.
Provide a wholesome “power snack”, one that includes a source of complex carbohydrate (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or milk products) and a protein source such as nuts, peanut butter, deli meat, milk, yogurt, or cheese, or a source of healthy fats like nuts or avocado.
Opting for healthy, whole foods will give your child a rich source of nutrients and help them to be physically and emotionally satisfied.
“Power snacks” pack a punch and may eliminate the feeding frenzy after school, and contribute to the overall nutritional quality of your child’s diet.
A good rule of thumb: include 2-3 food groups in your child’s power snack, and be sure to be aware of portion sizes.
Here are three examples to try this week:
- 1 mini-bagel with 2 tsp. peanut butter and 1/2 banana, sliced on top
- 1/2 sandwich (1 oz. turkey, lettuce, tomato, 1 slice whole wheat bread) with a small bunch of grapes
- 1 c. unsweetened cereal with ½ c. lowfat milk and 1 Tbsp. raisins
Need a planning tool or a fresh list of healthy snack ideas? Check out my new E-Guide, The Healthy Snack Planner for Kids!
And be sure to check out these other articles about snacks for kids: