Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids to Relieve School Stress

Liana Werner-Gray Liana Werner-Gray
5 minute read

Fall is here and the kids are back to school! This time of year can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety for parents and kids. The hustle and bustle of school plus after-school activities and sports do not leave a lot of time for wholesome family meals. This oftentimes leads kids to eat fast-food or sugar-laden protein bars which contribute to more anxiety. However, I am here to share healthy snack ideas to help fuel your children’s brains and bodies, not inhibit them. 

Organic Apple Slices with Organic Sunflower Seed Butter Spread: We cannot go wrong with a higher plant-based intake that includes apples. Studies have shown that consuming more plant-based ingredients reduces anxiety and depression because they contain a wide variety of micronutrients critical to physical and mental function, as well as complex carbs and fiber. Plants also help us to stay well hydrated. There is evidence that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have better mental health, including lower rates of depression, perceived stress, and negative mood. 

Raw fruits make excellent snacks and are the ultimate “fast food.” When paired with a Sunbutter, this becomes a complete snack. Sunflower seeds offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids for the brain, are high in protein, and also have high levels of iron and magnesium, along with other essential vitamins and nutrients. 

Homemade trail mix: Trail mix is a popular snack for kids, however, pre-packaged mixes typically include chocolate or dried fruit that is high in sugar and may contain other anxiogenic (anxiety-inducing) ingredients. I recommend making a trail mix with a variety of raw organic nuts, dried apples, or cranberries with no sugar added, and dairy-free and refined-sugar-free chocolate chips made from pure cacao. This is a snack that is high in protein but also full of nutrients. 

For example, cacao is remarkably high in magnesium—it has 40 times more than blueberries! The cacao bean is chocolate in its natural state before it’s heat-processed to become cocoa and then chocolate. Cacao improves our mood almost instantly. Even just the smell of it can activate feel-good brain chemicals and influence brain activity in a positive manner! An experiment was done on human subjects in which researchers found that the aroma of chocolate was associated with deep relaxation. For a great healthy cacao snack that can satisfy any chocolate craving, try my No-Bake Chocolate Brownies.

Nuts also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are important for brain health, especially the development of a child’s brain. 

Grain-Free Chips: Chips are always a go-to snack for kids, however the conventional brands we see on the market are made with cancer-causing ingredients and genetically modified ingredients. There are particular chemicals that have been banned—for good reason—as food ingredients in many countries, yet the United States allows these same chemicals to be used in common foods we might eat every single day. 

One of the chemicals we see a lot is Olestra (Olean). Olestra is a fat substitute found in some potato chips, French fries, corn chips, and other crunchy snack foods. Researchers have found this chemical, along with many others in conventional chips, to be neurotoxic, meaning they can harm the brain. While kids love the taste of those, there are many healthy alternatives we can purchase. For example, I always recommend finding a grain-free chip made from cassava flour. There are many brands today that make these and they taste just like the chips we all know and love without the risk of consuming harmful chemicals. 

Smoothies: Smoothies are an excellent way to increase nutrients in your child’s diet. Smoothies are a quick and easy snack to make and they can even be made ahead of time and frozen in ice cube trays then popped into the blender to reblend for a quick snack on the go. You do have to watch out for smoothies purchased from a store, sometimes they are filled with more sugar and ingredients than actual nutrients. 

A lot of popular smoothie bars like to use concentrated fruit juice which is full of refined sugar. The top food that causes anxiety is refined sugar, which includes white table sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup. These sugars have all been known to be ingredients in smoothies from a smoothie bar. Because of this, I recommend making a smoothie at home. You can sneak in ingredients like greens, and protein without the kids even knowing. My Mixed Berry Smoothie is a popular option for kids and you can add any superfoods you would like to make it feature more nutrients. 

Offering kids healthy snack alternatives at a young age can hopefully help form a habit of grabbing healthier options as adults. Healthy foods do not have to be boring and we are fortunate that in today’s world there are many healthy substitutes for conventional junk foods that are easily available and totally delicious! 

Liana Werner-Gray is the founder and owner of The Earth Diet, author of diet-related books and an advocate for natural healing using a healthy diet and lifestyle. Check out her books: Cancer-Free with Food, Anxiety-Free with Food, The Earth Diet, and 10-Minute Recipes. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram @lianawernergray.

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