Snacks are an important part of a young person's diet and can provide a good portion of their calorie and nutrient needs for the day. Considering the less nutritious foods youth are exposed to during the day -- fast foods in their neighborhoods and school cafeterias, vending machines and corner candy stores -- your program may be the only place your youth get healthy snacks. Whether you have the facilities to prepare snacks, or you must purchase your snacks, you should do your best to ensure that the snacks you serve are not only affordable, healthy, and nutritious but also appetizing.
When choosing snacks for your programs, keep the following in mind:
Serve fruits and
vegetables every day.
It is recommended that adolescents get at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Serve 100% fruit juice or V-8 juice, seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit or canned fruit in natural juice for nutrition and convenience.
Choose foods lower
in fat and added sugar.
Watch out for cakes, cookies, donuts, croissants and danishes. Instead, eat healthy snacks like fig bars, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, bagels, dry roasted nuts, sunflower seeds, popcorn, baked tortilla chips, whole-grain crackers, bread sticks, pretzels, low-fat cheese, or low-fat yogurt. Always check the ingredients list for added sugars (e.g., corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, fructose). Foods that have sugar as one of the first two ingredients are high in sugar. Reduced fat or fat-free foods often contain more sugar than their regular versions since manufacturers add sugar and other substances to improve the flavor of low-fat products.
Choose low sugar
Sodas and fruit drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. Better drink selections include 1% milk or fat-free milk, fresh orange juice, pineapple, grape, or apple juices. Make sure to always check the ingredient list for added sugars. If you still want the fizz, dilute juice with club soda. Or drink inexpensive, healthy, thirst quenching water. Adolescents need at least eight glasses of water a day!
crackers and cereals made with whole grains.
Whole grains such as whole wheat, whole cornmeal, oatmeal, and rye are higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals than products made with refined grains (i.e., white bread, plain bagels, saltines).
Watch out for portion
If you serve a high fat food or dessert, limit the portion size to a reasonable amount and allow only one serving. Serve unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables. Serve water every day!
Three-Week Healthy Snack
To download, visit www.canfit.org/nutrition_snackplan.html
USDA Child and Adult
Care Food Program (CACFP) state agency contacts are listed at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Care/CACFP/cacfpfaqs.htm
In California call the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division at 800.952.5609.
Learning how to practice healthy behaviors is an important part of establishing them. Exposing your youth to skill building activities such as reading food labels, making sensible food choices, meal planning or cooking, will help them maintain lifelong healthy eating habits.
Here are some activities
and resources to get you started.
CANFit provides training opportunities for adolescent youth providers interested in incorporating nutrition and physical activity into their programs. Visit www.canfit.org/rfs_training.html to find out more.
Being physically active
can lead to both physical and mental benefits, especially for young people.
Physical activity can:
Build muscle tone, increases your flexibility and endurance
Help to control your weight
Decrease stress and relieve tension
Increase blood flow to the brain which can help you concentrate and learn better
Release endorphins that make you feel happy
Give you extra energy
Expose you to new friends and fun
Increase your confidence and self esteem
Adolescence is a pivotal
time for preventing sedentary behavior in adulthood. Encouraging youth participation
in regular physical activity will help adolescents develop lifelong active
lifestyles. There are many ways a youth program can positively influence the
physical activity behaviors of youth.
KEEP THEM MOVING
Young people need 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Make physical activity an integral part of each day; have youth get up, stretch and move around.
MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS
Avoid games such as baseball and kickball that require half the participants to sit and wait for their turn. Find ways to modify an activity to include everyone (for example, have more equipment available, play games with smaller teams).
EMPHASIZE ACTIVITY AND
ENJOYMENT OVER COMPETITION
Competitive sports are a good source of activity, but they do not appeal to all youth. Make sure you offer a wide range of competitive and non-competitive activities for a variety of abilities.
Not all physical activity requires expensive equipment. Use what is available to you. For example, soup cans and water jugs can serve as weights during strength training activities.
PROMOTE LIFELONG PHYSICAL
Teach youth the health benefits and importance of regular physical activity while helping them develop the skills to adopt and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Encourage youth to be active outside of the program by providing examples of how they can fit more activity into their daily schedules, such as walking, running, jumping rope, swimming, bicycling or skating.
Find out what other physical activity opportunities -- sports leagues, recreation centers, and private gyms-- are available for youth in your area and explore ways to support each other. A community program or local business might be willing to provide sponsorship or resources for activities, while your program can provide referrals.
GET PARENTS INVOLVED
Encourage parents and guardians to support their childrens participation in physical activity, to be physically active role models, and to include physical activity in family events. Reinforcement of an active lifestyle is key to adopting it permanently.
SET AN EXAMPLE
Get involved with the activity to model the appropriate behavior. Show that physical activity is important to you personally.
CANFit provides training opportunities for adolescent youth providers interested in incorporating nutrition and physical activity into their programs.