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Making Healthy Snack Choices offers ideas on how to replace all those convenience foods with low-fat and low-salt healthy snack foods, around the house, for school lunches and after school.

Making Healthy Snack Choices

Unhealthy Convenience:

There's really no argument...all of us love the taste of unhealthy snack foods.  The most disciplined among us will have a chip with some dip on it and move to the carrot sticks, but who's that disciplined?  Not me!  If chips and dip are available, I never see the carrots.  Candies, nuts, chips, crackers and pastry of all kinds are readily available in most homes.  I've known several families who are never out of ice cream, cookies, pickles, salami, cheeses, candy, potato chips, dips, etc.  When a package runs out, they restock as if it were a staple, like milk or flour.  For most people, having these things sitting around the house is too convenient to be healthy.  It's just too hard to prepare something that's good for you when all you have to do is open and eat this stuff.  If you're like me, you have to plan to make healthy choices easy and to limit the unhealthy ones.  The planning must be even better to teach your children to make healthy choices. 

Making Healthy Snack Choices Easy:

Instead of buying all that stuff that's high in salt, fat, sugar, etc. we need to plan and prepare healthy foods in advance.  It's easy to choose healthy snacks if that's what's available and the other stuff is less convenient.  For instance, you could make a batch of low fat, low salt pita chips to have on hand for when the urge strikes.  Hey, I'd rather eat that than go to the store for potato chips.  Keep a sugar-free instant pudding or gelatin dessert in the refrigerator and leave the ice cream at the store.  Keep celery sticks and carrot sticks cut up and ready to eat when you want something.  Instead of the salted and flavored nuts, keep unsalted ones on hand.  Choose baked crackers over fried chips.  With the advent of sugar alcohol, there are now great-tasting sugar-free candies and chocolates.  Artificial fats have made fat-free dressings and dips very tasty.  A little planning ahead can put healthy choices in front of the ones we love instead of the easy and unhealthy choices.

Healthy Lunch Or Lunch Money:

When I went to school, both my parents worked, making it easier for them to give me lunch money rather than make my lunch.  At that time, the school had a cafeteria staff to serve a full meal at lunch...fat, salt and all.  I always enjoyed the meals but I remember thinking, as a classmate bit into an apple, "boy that looks good."  Now, the choices at schools are even more limited, with fast food chains serving lunch.  It's tempting to get those pre-made lunches at the store to send with your kids, but the nutrition just isn't there.  I'm sure they will complain as I would have, but the healthiest lunch is the one prepared at home with healthy ingredients, fresh fruit and unflavored nuts.  Last I checked, it takes all of 5 minutes a day to pack a lunch.  Healthy kids learn to be healthy at home. 

Snack Foods For After School:

After school, kids will grab whatever is available for their afternoon grazing ritual.  If that's ice cream, sugared soda, cookies, etc. they will choose that.  If sugar-free soda, fresh fruit, and sugar-free desserts are what's available, that's what they will eat.  By limiting the choices at home, to healthy foods, you're teaching your kids how to eat right without having to force the issue.

Whether we're kids or grown-ups, making healthy snack choices is a matter of planning and availability.  If the good stuff is there (and not the bad), we'll eat it...even like it.  It isn't that we can't have all that other (bad) stuff, just not as a daily dietary staple.  Instead, it could be a special treat on birthdays, holidays, etc.  That way, we'll learn to snack on healthy foods, daily, and make the unhealthy snacks a rare treat. 

What makes snacks so tempting is you can just grab them and eat.  So, replace pastry snacks with fruit, replace chips with crackers, Use low fat microwave popcorn.  Plan ahead and bake pita bread or tortillas with spices and flavorings to replace chips.  Salsa is already low fat.  Make sugar-free instant pudding or gelatin and keep it on hand instead of ice cream.  A good substitute I use for dip is low fat, chunky Bleu cheese salad dressing.  Mmmmm!

A Healthy Life:  Usually, we're seeking something more than just a balanced diet when we choose to eat right.  We want a healthy life...not just a meal.  Such a life requires balance in mind, body and spirit.  You can get help to achieve this balance by the One who designed us...God.  If you want His help to have a healthy life, visit Healing From God.

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