Happy Halloween! As families across the country get ready for a night of trick-or-treating, you may be noticing just how much candy there is around you – and your young children – this time of year. In fact, Halloween candy sales are expected to total almost $9 billion in the U.S. this year.
Halloween is just one day a year, but unhealthy eating is a concern year-round. Developing healthy eating habits and supporting healthy weight gain in the first 1,000 days can help build the foundation for a thriving future. This Halloween, 1,000 Days is highlighting the importance of limiting toddlers’ consumption of scary snack foods and spooky beverages.
Scary Snack Foods
Experts recommend that toddlers eat two to three healthy snacks each day. Snacks can be an important source of nutrients for toddlers’ growth and development, but many toddlers in the U.S. snack on foods that are high in added sugar and sodium and low in nutrients. Too often, parents receive mixed messages about which snacks are best for their toddlers. Many snack foods are marketed as “healthy,” “natural,” “organic” or full of vitamins and minerals, but they also contain too much sugar or sodium. Want to hear something scary? A single-serving pouch of fruit snacks can contain as much as 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar!
At 1,000 Days, we know how difficult it can be to get your toddler to snack on vegetables, fruits and other nutrient-rich foods. From picky eating, to a lack of time or resources, to the convenience of processed foods – the barriers to healthy snacking can seem endless. One way to incorporate more nutrient-dense foods into your toddler’s snack is to include a fruit or a vegetable combined with food from the grain or dairy group at most snacking occasions. Sliced fresh fruit, vegetables with dip or whole grain crackers with cheese are all good options.
When it comes to a healthy diet for toddlers, what they drink is just as important as what they eat. According to new recommendations from leading medical and nutrition organizations, toddlers should drink water and milk each day. Toddlers don’t need to drink juice to be healthy (it’s best for them to meet their daily fruit intake by eating whole fruit), but consuming a small amount of 100% fruit juice is okay.
The recommendations caution against drinks with added sugars, like flavored milks (e.g., chocolate, strawberry), sugar- and low-calorie sweetened beverages (like sodas, sports drinks and fruit-flavored drinks) and toddler milks (sometimes called transition formula, follow-up formula or growing-up milk – and which contain more sodium and less protein than whole cow’s milk). Some of these beverages – especially toddler milks – are marketed as a good source of nutrients to support healthy growth and development. But, they can contribute to dental cavities and other negative health impacts such as weight gain. Talk about spooky!
Check out 1,000 Days’ new videos for more information on healthy drinks and tips for avoiding spooky beverages.