A Healthier Snack to a Healthier Track

It’s 7am and you’ve just woken up to the high-pitched annoyingly familiar “MUUUUUUMMMM!”

You bury your head into the pillows to block out the world, but reality sets in. There’s a long list you have to tick off today and the first one is to get your kids out of the house knowing they’re on the healthy track.

Yawning, you walk into the kitchen and your kids are already enjoying their first meal of the day. You’ve taught them how much cereal to put into the bowl and how much milk to go along with it. It’s not breakfast you usually worry about, it’s the school lunchboxes.

Scanning the fridge, there doesn’t seem to be anything simple, delicious, and most importantly, healthy that they will actually eat.

If you take a moment to ponder over the food in your fridge, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “healthy eating”?

In reality, we all know what it is. We all have a somewhat similar definition in our minds, it’s just tough to put it into action.

Thankfully, there’s not an exactly correct way to “do” healthy eating. Contrary to what a lot of people think, it doesn’t mean you should completely stop adding treats into the kids’ lunchboxes, or that you should throw out all those packets you bought from the confectionery aisle a couple of days ago when they were marked with that eye-catching half price!

We know how tough it is to cut down on the snacks. Though thankfully, while enjoying a wide variety of ‘everyday’ foods, we can still enjoy our favourite treats.

Yes, you read that right.

We do NOT have to cut down on the snacks we love, we just need to consider a wide variety of foods from the Five Food Groups (1):

1. Grains (mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties)
2. Vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
3. Proteins- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
4. Dairy- Milk, yoghurt, cheese, and/or alternatives
5. Fruits

It’s just that foods high in sugar, salt and fat are best limited to ‘sometimes’ and in small amounts, while choosing foods from the five food groups as everyday choices. So yes, you can have that piece of birthday cake guilt-free, as long as ‘cake’ isn’t on your daily menu!

If we use the ‘swap it, don’t stop it’ strategy, it’s as easy as replacing a packet of chips with crackers and a cheese dip. Or instead of adding a muesli bar, making up some protein balls by mixing peanut butter with oats, seeds, nuts and coconut and rolling them into balls.

Healthy eating is a habit that can and should be made from an early age. Why not choose a healthy snack substitute from the five food groups when making lunch choices for your child to keep them on a healthier track!

1. eatforhealth.gov.au. The Five Food Groups. Australia: Australian Government Department of Health; 2015 July.

Article author: Sarah Shan, Nutritionist, Bachelor of Health Sciences, U.Q – Published October 2018