In light of some tuckshops selling counterfeit and self-made goods, Dr Marizeth Jordaan, who is a lecturer at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the University of the Free State, discussed the disadvantages of snacks and what can be seen as a healthy and balanced meal for our children.
A healthy or well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods that will give your body the nutrients (carbohydrates, health fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals) that your body needs to stay healthy, feel good and have energy.
Dr. Jordaan mentioned in South Africa, 11 food-based dietary guidelines can help parents distinguish between healthy and unhealthy.
”Enjoy a variety of foods and make starchy foods part of most meals. Ensure that vegetables and fruit, dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya are a regular combination in your meals.”
Dr. Jordaan further mentioned that fats should be used sparingly and so should sugary intakes. She also encouraged an active lifestyle.
“Because children are still growing, it is important to provide them with healthy meals and snacks. It is important to consider the type and amount of food when choosing a healthy snack. Healthy snacks are those that contain important vitamins and minerals and are low in fats, sugar and salt.
Some snacks like potato chips, chocolates and sugar-sweetened beverages are referred to as “empty” energy foods and should rather be limited to special occasions and taken in small amounts since they are high in energy but provide very little nutrients.”
In younger children (below 4 years of age), it is important to avoid those foods that carry a high risk for choking, such as hard candy, ice cubes, nuts and seeds.
When asked whether snacks are detrimental for children’s health, Dr Jordaan said “If snacks are well planned with attention given to the type, variety and amount of food included, snacks can improve the overall diet quality.
“Snacks may prevent overconsumption of foods between two main meals and it can reduce the risk of overweight and obesity and positively impact metabolism.”