Eating for Energy? Healthy Snacks are a Must

Guess what, chocolate lovers: There is room in the diet for a candy bar now and then.

But Sandy Procter, a registered dietitian with Kansas State University Research and Extension, says that for a better, more regular energy boost, people should make healthy eating part of an everyday lifestyle.

People tend to be more active in spring and summer. Procter said meeting increased energy needs is a matter of regularly eating more healthful snacks than just candy bars. She said the best snacks combine protein and carbohydrates.

“It’s like putting fuel in a car; our body is the highest quality car we can purchase,” she said. “So, we need to put good fuel in there.”

“We are often led to [a run-down feeling] by a high carbohydrate snack that will increase our blood sugar and give us that quick boost of energy, but then we drop down after that. For the most part, we are going to get more benefit from a piece of fruit or half of a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with a banana or raisins, instead of snacks that are high in sugar and fat.”

Parents also should realize that children’s energy needs vary, not only with the weather, but with occasional growth spurts. Procter advises that parents listen to kids’ requests for snacks.

“[Parents should] plan for snacks; they will happen and should happen,” she said. “Make sure when kids are asking for snacks, nutritious ones are available. If you don’t prepare for snacks, kids may eat what you don’t want them to.”

She advises setting aside a place where high-quality snacks can be found, such as a bowl on the cabinet, or a basket in the refrigerator. Easy snacks that work well include bananas or other fresh fruit, graham crackers and yogurt cups.

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