Children can experience dips in their blood sugar levels, which can affect their energy, behaviour and concentration. For this reason, snacking on the right things between larger meals can be beneficial. Many early years settings provide a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack and promoting healthy options is vital in supporting children to understand about ‘energy rich’ food choices.
During snack time, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk to children about ‘Snack Rainbows’ and that different colours of food will work in different ways to help their bodies grow fit and healthy.
Some food to include for snack time with their rainbow reasons why:
Red: Great for helping your body fight germs and a good memory – apples, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, pomegranate
Orange: Good for glowing skin and healthy eyes – orange slices, satsumas/clementines, carrot sticks, orange pepper, peach, nectarine, apricots, mango
Yellow: Great for good memory and healthy heart – yellow pepper, banana, baby corns, pineapple
Green: Helpful for a healthy brain and for keeping your bones and teeth strong – apples, pears, grapes, cucumber sticks, green pepper, kiwi, broccoli heads, celery, avocado
Blue/Indigo/Violet: Good for a healthy brain and heart – blueberries, blackberries, grapes, plums
These fruit and vegetable examples should ideally be combined with protein to slow down their release of sugar and support sustained energy levels until mealtime. Be aware that dried fruit is very high in sugar and can have significant impact on blood sugar. The effect of 10 raisins is equivalent to that of a punnet of strawberries, so when planning snacks keep dried fruit consumption to a minimum.
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
Cucumber, carrot sticks
How food is presented to children can also make a huge difference between them willingly adding something to their plate or them simply choosing something ‘safer’. Strategies to include children in the preparation is certainly one way to engage and asking them to create a face, model or picture from their food can also help them to become more adventurous.
Whilst children pick their ‘Snack Rainbows’ it’s also fun to sing a rainbow song, so they’re not just learning about food!
About the author
The Food Teacher, Katharine Tate, is a qualified nutritional therapist, teacher, mum, and entrepreneur who has over 20 years experience working with children and schools in the UK, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. She has founded The Food Teacher brand that combines her passion for education and nutrition to deliver a healthy childhood, focusing on promoting family health through food and lifestyle.