I always felt a sense of pride that milk or water were the beverages of choice for my oldest daughter once she made the switch from breastmilk to cow’s milk. What I hadn’t prepared for was the onslaught of juice introduced to her diet when she began pre-school. Rather than forbid it all together, the last few years have been about teaching moderation. By kindergarten, I’d finally had it and asked the teacher if she could pack her own water for snack time, and forgo the bottles of apple juice many parents chose to bring in when their time came to supply snack.
The USDA’s announcement of the their new food guidelines and recommendations are a welcome change I hope schools embrace well beyond the cafeteria. Most pediatricians have been saying the same thing for years—offer your kids water instead of sugary drinks. Juice may not be the only culprit behind rising childhood obesity rates, but small changes like this have a big impact on our children’s eating habits when they grow up and venture out on their own.
Here are some snack ideas I’ve found keep the whole class happy and energized.
Grapes, cut in half for pre-k students
Low-sodium, whole-grain crackers
Raisins, dried apricots or a medley of dried fruits
Rice cakes with peanut butter (swap in soy butter if there are any nut allergies in your child’s class)
And opt for a large bottle of water over the individual ones. It takes a little extra time and volunteer work in the classroom, but better to serve it in reusable cups you can wash to save on all the extra packaging.