March is National Nutrition Month and in its honor Colorado’s Poudre High School has set forth healthy snacking guidelines that can help parents and kids in any district at any age.

Why snack?

Snacks are the way we stay fueled throughout the day physically, but they can also have huge mental benefits. When snacking, kids are less likely to spend mental energy thinking about being hungry or when they will next get to eat. This makes them more productive, whether that be in math class or when rehearsing for their after-school play.

Healthy snack ideas:

  • All snacks should include a fruit or vegetable component. Try apples, oranges, bananas, kiwis, or grapes for easy-to-pack fruit choices. For veggies, try carrots, sugar snap peas, or grape cherries. Bean dip, hummus and cream cheese all work for healthy dipping options.
  • Half-sandwiches are often overlooked as a snack idea but are a great option for individuals of all ages. It is important to remember that snack sandwiches should have far fewer calories than sandwiches used as main courses. Try a piece of 100 percent whole wheat bread topped with different combinations of cream cheese, apples, cheese slices, cucumbers, and other healthy toppings.
  • Wondering what to get a teacher to show appreciation? Try fruits, veggie trays or trail mix.

Get your plate in shape:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the group that sponsors National Nutrition Month, uses the slogan “Get your plate in shape” to encourage people to get their health and bodies in shape. It offers these tips to translate a simple slogan into real-life results:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

  • Dark green, red and orange vegetables are best
  • Beans and peas are great, too
  • Veggies count whether they are fresh, frozen, or canned. For canned, however, make sure you choose low-sodium brands
  • Fruits count in dried, frozen, canned, fresh, or 100 percent fruit juice form

Make at least half your grains whole

  • Choose whole-grain cereals and pastas as well as bread and crackers

Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk

  • Same nutrients, less fat!

Vary your protein choices

  • Choices include beans, lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and seafood.
  • Have seafood twice a week

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars

  • Drink water instead of sodas
  • Add spices or herbs to season instead of salt

Enjoy your food but eat less

  • Cook at home more since you can control portions
  • Use smaller plates, etc, to make food portions appear larger than they are

Be physically active your way

  • Pick an exercise that you personally like
  • Start with just 10 minutes a day, increase from there