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School children eating snack

Snacks are small meals that are eaten in between larger meals to provide energy. Snacks are especially important for children, as they usually do not eat enough in one meal to get all the nutrients they need and remain full for the day. Eating a healthy snack will help keep children healthy and full of energy. Smart snacking is a fantastic way to meet daily nutrient requirements that maybe missed at mealtimes. If chosen carefully, snacks can promote good health by supplying nutrients without adding too many calories. MyPlate.gov offers help for parents who are trying to teach their youngsters to eat right and choose healthy snacks.

Choosing Healthier Snacks

The following are some snack ideas from each food group:


Grains provide nutrients that give energy. Make half of your grains whole grains.

  • Baked potato chips or tortilla chips with salsa
  • Pretzel sticks with a glass of milk
  • Popcorn air-popped, low-fat microwavable


Vegetables provide nutrients that help with eyesight. Vary your vegetables.

  • Raw vegetables with low-fat salad dressing
  • Microwave a small potato. Top with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and salsa.
  • Cup of vegetable soup and whole-grain crackers


Fruits provide the nutrients that help heal cuts and bruises and keeps skin healthy. Focus on whole fruits.

  • Peel a banana, and dip it in yogurt. Roll it in crushed cereal and freeze.
  • Snack-size applesauce
  • Frozen fruit bars


Dairy provides nutrients that promote healthy bones and teeth. Move to low-fat or fat-free yogurt.

  • Low-fat milk and yogurt smoothies with juice, sliced bananas, or strawberries
  • String cheese and fruit
  • Cottage cheese or yogurt with fresh or canned fruit packed in its own juice or water


Protein provides the needed nutrients to build strong muscles. Vary your protein routine.

  • Make a mini sandwich with tuna or egg salad on a dinner roll.
  • Spread mustard on a flour tortilla. Top with a slice of turkey or ham, low-fat shredded cheese, and lettuce. Then roll up.
  • Dip pita chips in hummus.

Occasional Snacks

Some foods can be high in sugar, fat, and salt. These should be eaten occasionally or for a special treat. Some examples of foods to eat occasionally include the following:

  • Cookies
  • Soda
  • Chips
  • Ice cream
  • Prepackaged lunch or snack packs
  • Fruit string

More Information

Nutrition experts agree that there are no good or bad foods. All foods in moderation can fit into a healthful diet. Children’s snack choices should include a variety of foods from the five food groups of MyPlate. For more information, visit www.eatright.org.