It’s around 4:00 in the afternoon, and lunch is a distant memory, but dinner still needs to be made. The day has been rough to say the least, filled with people bossing you around and tasks that never seem to get done.
You’re tired, hungry, and you’d like a nap but don’t know how to ask for one. Some little thing sets you off and then all of a sudden you’re in tantrum town.
The situation described above might have felt familiar to you, but here’s something to keep in mind: it’s also very familiar to your children.
Adults have no monopoly on the afternoon hangry feeling. The dip in blood sugar (and mood) in the afternoon is so widespread.
Other countries are known to let everyone, young and old, take a nap at that time (Oh, Spain, how I’d love to visit).
Feel Good With Fruit
Fruit makes for excellent snack time food, especially when it’s fresh and in-season.
The best part about fruit is that it stays fresh without being packaged and can travel anywhere at room temperature.
Try tossing one of these in your bag:
- 30 grapes – 100 cal
- 1 apple – 95 cal
- 2 tangerines – 94 cal
- Orange – 69 cal
- Banana – 105 cal
- Peach – 68 cal
- Raisins or dried cranberries (1.5 oz) – 125 cal
- 2 Wild Made fruit rolls with no added sugar – 70 cal
Great Grains on the Go
Kids have fast metabolisms because they never-stop-moving! Being active is great for their development.
However, it often leaves them feeling hungry a few hours after a meal.
One way to keep spirits high is to reach for some whole grain options that provide clean, sustained energy.
Try some of these examples:
- 1 cup of Cheerios – 105 cal
- Whole wheat pretzels (1 oz) – 109 cal
- Pita chips (1 oz) – 130 cal
- 2 cups popped popcorn – 88 cal
- Whole grain English muffin – 124 cal
- Add a little peanut butter spread, and it comes to 154 cal
- 7 Ritz crackers – 100 cal
Go Nuts for Snacks!
Packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, these superfoods can be the perfect afternoon snack. Just try to keep an eye on the salt content.
Your body is liable to crave that salty kick when it’s time to snack, but you want to manage your overall salt intake carefully.
- 13 walnuts – 104 cal
- 13 almonds – 101 cal
- 29 pistachios – 100 cal
- 5 macadamia nuts – 102 cal
- 10 cashews – 90 cal
- 10 hazelnuts – 101 cal
Tasty Grab and Go Dairy
These treats are tasty, filling, and contain lots of nutrients including calcium and vitamin D.
These nutrients are important for creating strong bones and strengthening the immune system.
When it comes to purchasing dairy snacks, always be sure to read the nutrition label.
I’ll provide some general guidelines here, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for the hidden sugars typically found in foods marketed to children.
- String cheese – 85 cal
- Cheddar cheese (1 oz) – 110 cal
- Oikos Greek yogurt pack – 120 cal
- 1/2 cup of 2% cottage cheese – 107 cal
- 1 Babybel cheese – 85 cal
Keep it Convenient
The truth is that on days where it’s important to power through the afternoon, you can quickly derail the hangry train with a light snack. However, when your kids are in the middle of feeling impossibly hungry, it can be difficult for them to make good food choices.
Make sure they end up eating a snack that will leave them feeling full without wrecking their appetite for dinner by having healthy snacks already prepared!
Keep them close at hand and be ready to dispense right away as soon as one of the kids (or let’s be honest, you!) starts to show signs that they’re hungry and are hitting the afternoon wall.
Not too Big, Not Too Small
As anyone who’s gone shopping on an empty stomach knows, it’s best not to make food choices while you’re hungry.
It’s well known that people are more likely to go for larger portions of unhealthy foods during this time!
Our brain is wired to make us crave more sugary and fatty foods when you’re undergoing mild stress.
To avoid this problem, let’s take a look at some snacks to prepare and pack ahead of your busy day. Keep these options by your side for whenever hunger strikes your little ones!
The ideal snack contains about 100 to 150 calories.
While preparing for your day, fill a bag with enough food for yourself and the kiddos to make sure everyone has a least one serving. You can even mix and match the above options to make the snacks feel a bit more substantial.
Pack Up and Go!
Any of these snacks on their own will be perfect for helping you get through the afternoon dip in energy. To prepare for a long day, like a trip to an amusement park or a long road trip, I like to set aside one bag just for snacks like these.
I pack up several options with the total coming out to one serving size for each person in the car. I keep the bag with me to avoid anyone getting too greedy, but everyone ends up happy with tasty food options and correct portion sizes.
Planning is Key to a Successful, Hangry-free Day
The most important thing to remember is that it’s perfectly natural for kids to get a little hungry between meals.
If you let that feeling compel you to reach for potato chips or sugary snacks, it can become a real problem.
Tty to make sure your snacks are full of fresh fruits, whole grains, and other healthy options. Before you know it, you’ll have no problem incorporating these ideas as part of a healthy diet.