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January 14, 2022

Are these cookies too sweet? Does this cracker contain too much salt? Do these chips contain any nutritional value?

If you find yourself asking these questions as you look at the myriad of sweet or salty snacks in the supermarket, you're probably not alone. Like most parents, we want to make sure our kids are snacking on something that not only tastes good, but also has a lot of nutritional value.

a boy by a supermarket trolley with snacks

Unfortunately, some of us can't find the time to bake, cook or prepare every single breakfast muffin or energy ball for our little ones. So sometimes we have to mix the homemade treats with some simple, convenient snacks that are available in stores. That's just the way life is. And that's a good thing, too. We just need to pay attention to some details of a product to make sure we make a better choice.

What to look for in packaged snacks?

a bunch of packaged snacks

Added sugar or added salt

Look at thelabel on the package. Pay close attention to the information "per 100 grams" and not per serving, because servings can be different for each product. It is recommended to buy a product that contains less than 10 g of sugar per 100 g and less than 300 mg of sodium (salt) per 100 g.

chips on a white plate

The 'top three' ingredients 

On commercial snacks in stores, ingredients are usually listed in order from highest to lowest content. So if you see that sugar is among the first three ingredients in a product, it means that most of the product is sugar.Other names for sugar are sucrose, syrup, dried fruit, glucose. The same is true for sodium (salt). If it is at the top of the list, it means that the product contains a very high percentage of this ingredient. If this is the case, you should think twice about buying this product.

2 kids eating snacks

What's in it

Does it contain real, healthy food ingredients like fruits or nuts? Does it contain a lot of artificial colours, flavours, additives or preservatives? Ingredients are listed in order of most to least. So if a protein bar or energy ball has nuts or fruit among the first three ingredients, they make up the grave portion of the snack, and it's a fairly nutritious option.

2 small girls eating snacks

Growing children are often hungry, and snacks can help keep them from overeating at mealtimes. Take this opportunity to add nutrients to your meal plan. It's important to thoroughly check a product's ingredients before buying it for your children. In general, try to choose foods that are:

  • Low in fat, sugar or salt, but high in protein, fibre and water.
  • Are rich in nutrients rather than calories
  • Are made from whole foods whenever possible
  • Offer fibre and protein

sugar on a spoon on a dark background

Allow time for snacks

Three to four hours is usually the interval at which children get to eat throughout the day. This means you can offer 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks each day. Try to stick to your meal plan on the weekends as well. The last thing you should do is give children snacks throughout the day, as this will not give them time to develop an appetite.

a clock on pink and green background

Whether homemade or store-bought, snacks should be a great way to provide our children with the nutrients they need. Be mindful and pay attention to the ingredients in the product.

Do you have any experience or tips for choosing snacks with kids? What is the first thing you look for when looking at a label?

Text: Kathy Muenster, content-designer from ZĂŒrich

Photos: Unsplash

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