Saturday, September 11, 2010


Dr. Wendy Ghiora – Posting #65 – September 11, 2010

During “Nutrition” period at many schools, the most common snacks I see children eating are: hot chips, cookies and candy bars. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of these treats are quite tasty. However, how will they add to a child’s mental and physical capacity?

Recently, the focus on children's health and well-being has shifted to poor eating habits accompanied by inactive lifestyles and the overwhelming increase in childhood obesity. A recent article in the academic journal, Appetites stated, "Children who replace proper breakfast with chocolate bars and carbonated drinks have the reaction levels of a 70 year old by the end of the morning."

Poor nutrition affects all walks of life
Research has shown that a child's behavior, learning capacity, cognitive performance and school attendance are negatively impacted by inadequate nutrition. When a child's body has no food, their brain lacks the fuel necessary to start their day off on the right track, alert and ready to concentrate at school.

A healthy lifestyle begins with a proper diet. Healthy eating is important in children for the proper formation of bones, teeth, muscle and a healthy heart. Diet can affect growth and development in small children as well as teens. As we all know by now, childhood obesity is on the rise. If we, the adults, promote a healthy diet, our children can maintain a healthy weight be more mentally alert, and stay healthy as they grow into young adults.

Things to Keep in Mind

The important thing is to provide children with nutritious snacks that don't undermine the primary goal of keeping them healthy and fit. We can do this by avoiding foods that are fried, processed, too oily or too salty; and, definitely keep sugar to a minimum. If your child eats healthy snacks from the start, they'll likely continue to make good food choices throughout their lives.

As for serving sizes, young children don't need large portions. Many experts agree that servings should equal about one tablespoon of food for each year of a child's age. Enjoy serving them those small portions now, because your grocery bills will increase dramatically as they get older!

A few Do's and Don'ts
Many common snacks that children “go to” include chips, baked cheese crackers, a variety of cookies and chewy fruit snacks. While these snacks may be marketed as healthy and low fat, often times they are made from refined grains and are high in sugar and sodium. These components pose a variety of health risks as noted in “The Dangers of Unhealthy Ingredients in Packaged Foods,” dated April 28, 2009 and found on the Wellsphere website.


•Refined grains- cause insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
•Sodium- salt helps to regulate blood pressure and maintains the balance of body fluids. Too much salt can cause blood pressure to go up.
•Sugar- sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream which causes a rise in insulin. Insulin acts to clear sugar and fat from the blood and stores it in tissues for future use. This causes weight gain.

Smart parents can really “out-do” the hot chips and candy bars by sending kids off to school with snacks that will very likely start a trend among your child's friends of healthier eating during nutrition period.

Healthier Snack Ideas:
Crunchy vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, jicama, sugar snap peas)
(with peanut butter or any nut spread, or ranch dressing).
Ants on a Log: Peanut butter on celery with raisins
Whole-wheat crackers or whole-wheat tortilla with cheese
String cheese
Sliced apples, oranges, berries (any kind)
Mixed raisins (or other dried fruit) with nuts, sunflower seeds, soy nuts
Hummus and pita wedges

Many of these can be mixed & matched. Here you have a fairly easy way to make an important impact and really help your children function better mentally and physically. These “smart ‘n sassy snacks,” will keep their faces smiling and their engines burning mightily.

"The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine."
- Hippocrates

1 comment:

  1. This is very important! My husband and I teach chess to children and I can always tell when the students have just eaten the wrong snack.

    It is impossible to get them to focus on all.

    Normally I can keep a very young child's attention (age 4 and up) for quite some time, if they have good nutrition!