This is one of my favourite topics to discuss with parents and children as it’s a real bag of snakes and one which is oh, so judged upon as you turn up to school to collect them!

Snacking now appears a necessary part of their everyday life as many children seem to burn through food very fast and need topping up, especially when they start school so early and have the pressures of achieving hour upon hour from such a young age. Snacks can also be a good way to get a few extra fresh fruits and vegetables into your child if they’re a little reluctant at meal times.

However, the reason I say it’s a bag of snakes is that there’s a tendency for some parents to give kids snacks more often than they need – on the bus, in the car, watching TV, they’re constantly eating. Snacks are sometimes used as a pacifier, which of course, we have all done on occasions, but for many families now, we see that children are struggling with too much weight and have problems with their teeth since they’re constantly being bombarded with sugar and other teeth-hating foods.

It’s hard to stand out from the crowd of parents who always give snacks even when it’s excessive, but have the confidence to do so as too much means their children can take in a lot of calories, usually from fat and sugar.

Like all things, snacks are fine in moderation, but damaging to their health in large amounts. Quality and frequency-wise, I’d suggest just having a small snack between their lunch and tea, or if the morning as long and you can provide something nourishing to have at school etc. Then this too can help them remain in a strong place.

Healthy snacks include:

  • in autumn and winter think about packing a thermos of soup into the car, which you could bosth have a little cup of before you set off home or to an activity.
  • rice cakes, oatcakes, breadsticks
  • fresh and dried fruits – ideally non-sulphur treated.
  • small bags of unsalted nuts (not for under-fives because of risk of choking, and not if your child has a nut allergy)
  • hummus or guacamole and raw vegetable sticks
  • slices of pumpernickel-style bread with a nut butter
  • rye crackers with slithers of cheese
  • homemade flapjack, oat biscuits or cereal bars
  • fruit and yoghurt
  • wholemeal muffin or bagel with sliced banana and a little honey
  • plain homemade popcorn or vegetable crisps
  • hard-boiled eggs halved or slices of good quality cold meat or chicken with some raw vegetables , packed in a handy container.

Complete Family Nutrition, by Jane Clarke, published by DK, £16.99, 


Jane Clarke's Complete Family Nutrition

Jane Clarke’s Complete Family Nutrition

About The Author

FOUNDER of Nourish by Jane Clarke, BSc (Hons) SRD DSc

Jane is both a dietitian and Cordon Bleu chef with more than 30 years’ experience in the nutrition industry. Jane is the author of nine best-selling books, was a columnist for over a decade for The Daily Mail, Observer, The Times and The Mail on Sunday, and regularly contributes on TV. She worked with Jamie Oliver on several of his projects, including the School Meals revolution, which showed that people-power can bring about social change. It is with this same mindset and passion that she is leading Nourish by Jane Clarke, which provides a solution to the problem of undernourishment and provides empowerment and inspiration to those who are vulnerable or facing a health challenge. Jane was the first person in the UK to open a private dietetic clinic, establishing a highly successful specialist Nutrition and Dietetic practice in London that has been running for the past 27 years. She advises some of Britain’s leading sportspeople, entertainers and media professionals, and has been personal dietitian and nutritionist for David Beckham and Benedict Cumberbatch. She is particularly regarded for her work with those living with serious illnesses such as cancer, neurological degenerative conditions, dementia and stroke, supporting patients from early diagnosis right through to end of life care, across all ages, including paediatric cancers and early onset dementia. Jane has been awarded an honorary doctorate for her services to nourishing the vulnerable from the University of West London. As a qualified Dietician, Jane spearheads Nutrition and Dietetic practices in London and Leicester advising some of Britain's leading sportspeople and many of the world's biggest actors, music and media personalities, whilst also continuing to treat young children, teenagers and adults with health problems such as diabetes, IBS, dementia, depression. Jane runs a specialist cancer and dementia nutrition practice in Marylebone, where she treats patients referred by GPs, consultants, carers and relatives. Jane was David Beckham's Personal Dietician & Nutritionist during the 2006 World Cup, whilst also advising him and his team at his Football Training Academy. Her books include the best selling series “Jane Clarke's Bodyfoods”, Yummy! A Children's Nutritional Guide, Yummy Baby, Nourish and Complete Family Nutrition. She is also a regular contributor on British Television including all the major networks. She has written for The Daily Mail, Observer, London Times and The Mail on Sunday. She was the Nutritional Consultant working alongside Jamie Oliver, on his groundbreaking television series Jamie's School Dinners and Jamie's co-presenter on Eat to Save Your Life! "Jane Clarke is an exceptional nutritionist. She loves food and she's a great cook - what a tiger!" - Jamie Oliver

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