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Healthy Snacks for Kids on the Go

Not only is it OK to eat between meals, snacking can actually be good for your child.
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A quick way to tell if a snack has gone over the line: It's over 250 calories a serving, it's probably got too many empty calories, Livingston says.

3. Portion, Portion, Portion

While it's OK to give kids some leeway on choosing what snacks to have, experts say it's still vital to pay attention to portion size.

"Parents should not ignore portion control boundaries just because it's a snack," says New York nutritionist Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN, director of JoyBauerNutrition.com. "Yes, you can relax a little in terms of allowing certain foods, but you should pay attention to how much of these foods your child is eating,"

It's also important to look for snacks with low levels of fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Even if the package says a snack has no trans fats, read the ingredient list to be sure.

"If you see the word 'hydrogenated,' it means it has some trans fat, so avoid that snack," Bauer tells WebMD.

If your child is battling a weight problem, paying attention to portion size and total calories is vital, Bauer says. But, she says, don't deny the child the opportunity to snack.

"You don't want to exclude an overweight child from having snacks, but you must remember to include their snack calories as part of their daily caloric intake -- and teach your child how to do that as well," says Bauer.

To control portions and help kids learn the value of doing so, Levine suggests keeping some zip-top bags on hand, and letting kids prepare their own portion-controlled servings.

"You can use their age as a guideline - for example, a 7-year-old child can be allowed seven M&M candies, or seven potato chips, seven animal crackers," says Levine. "It teaches them counting skills as well as portion control."

4. Make It Easy to Eat Well

Having trouble getting your kids to eat healthy snacks -- like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain items? Make these foods easy to munch, and they will eat more of them, Livingston says.

"No matter what food it is you're trying to get your child to eat, if you make it accessible, if it's easy to eat, if it's there waiting for them in the fridge or on the counter, you will increase the likelihood that they will eat it," says Livingston.

But cutting up fruits and veggies into bite-sized pieces isn't quite enough. Snacks should also be packaged in a way that makes it easy for kids to "grab and go," Livingston says.

"The key is not only making snacks easy to eat, but also easy to share," Levine adds. "Kids love to share their snacks at school and if you help them do that, they are more likely to eat what you prepare, rather then trade up for something from a vending machine."

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