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Baylor College of Medicine News

Don't let snacks replace healthy, balanced meals

Every parent wants to fulfill their child's request for a quick snack, but be sure to consider how snacks fit into a balanced diet, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

"Any snack needs to be in proportion to a person's nutrient needs, which are based on age, gender and activity level," said Dr. Karen Cullen, associate professor of pediatrics-nutrition at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital.

It is very important to watch how often snacks are offered and their portion sizes, said Cullen. The information found at Choose MyPlate for adults, children and pre-schoolers can help identify the snack items that fit into a healthy diet.

"Parents and caregivers should be careful that the types and amounts of snacks offered do no interfere with their child eating regular meals," said Cullen.

Parents could have their children help plan snacks, create grocery lists and go shopping with them. With the arrival of spring, there is a greater selection of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, and available at reasonable prices. Taking children to a farmer's market can be a fun activity with great benefits for the whole family.