By Elizabeth Somer, Registered Dietician and
Author of Age Proof Your Body
Good habits are formed in childhood – from eating right, to living an active lifestyle to visiting the doctor on a regular basis. The sooner children learn to take care of their health and their bodies, the more likely they will be to avoid health problems, such as obesity, heart disease and vision loss.
Studies show that eating foods packed with eye-friendly nutrients, including lutein, vitamins C and E, omega-3s and zinc, can help protect the eyes from developing diseases and disorders. So teach your child the benefits of eating healthy, not only for overall health, but also for their sight!
Having children eat foods packed with eye-friendly nutrients is not difficult or expensive. It’s easy to “sneak” these nutrients into their snacks. Snacks are part of your child’s total daily diet, which should include at least five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables, six or more grains (preferably whole grains), three calcium-rich foods, and two or more protein-rich foods. A rule of thumb for snacks is to base each snack on at least two of those categories, such as fruit and milk or meat/beans and grain.
Here are six quick and healthy summer snacks, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and more. They are all nutritious, easy to fix, and even the fussiest child will be asking for them again! Most importantly, all recipes include at least one eye-friendly nutrient.
- Whipped Cream Mountain: Layer cut-up fruit, such as strawberries (rich in vitamin C) or tangerines (rich in lutein) and yogurt in a parfait glass and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry.
- Peanut Butter Candy Sandwiches: Mix equal parts of toasted wheat germ and peanut butter, then sweetened with honey and spread on whole wheat bread (rich in vitamin E, trace minerals such as zinc, and healthy fats).
- Apple Pie Crunchies: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on apple slices (rich in vitamin C) for a sweet snack.
- Berry Dunkables: Dunk fresh strawberries (rich in vitamin C) in a small amount of chocolate syrup.
- Banana Vanilla Pudding: Make vanilla pudding according to directions on package, using low-fat milk fortified with vitamin D and the omega-3 fat DHA. Slice bananas into individual serving bowls, pour pudding over bananas, and refrigerate. When set, sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips and serve.
- Angel Vines: Top a small slice of store-bought Angel food cake with a cup of fresh berries, like strawberries (rich in vitamin C).
And one last thing – eating right for healthy vision is important, but more importantly don’t forget those regular, comprehensive eye exams for your child. The American Optometric Association recommends children receive a comprehensive eye assessment within the first year of life, again at age three, before starting school, and every two years after that, unless recommended more frequently by their eye doctor. To find an eye doctor near you click here.