Are snacks essential?

Is it true that our children need to eat snacks? To answer this question, we must know the two main reasons why snacks should be eaten.

Reason #1: to complete the previous meal

A snack should be chosen according to the daily portions included in Canada’s Food Guide. Therefore, snacking is part of the daily menu. For example, Emile is not very hungry for breakfast. He only drinks a little of milk. For his morning snack, the adult should give him foods from the food groups that were not included in his breakfast (Fruits and vegetables, grain products and meat and alternatives).

Reason #2: to sustain hunger

Also, the meal and snacks' schedule will have an impact on the choice of foods, knowing that each food group gives different vitamins and minerals that are necessary to the good functioning of the body and that each group provides either carbohydrates, lipids or proteins. Snacks will help your child wait for their next meal. Therefore, the delay between the snack and the meal will affect its composition. If the delay is small (less than 2 hours), the snack will be mainly (not only) composed of foods that contain carbohydrates that sustain hunger for shorter periods of time. If so, Emile could have a snack of ground sunflower seeds and fruits' muffin bits. If he has to wait for a long time (more than 2 hours), his snack will be more substantial and will contain proteins to sustain the hunger and energy of your child a bit longer. In that situation, Emile could eat a boiled egg with crackers and pieces of fruits.

Food groups


Soothe hunger for short periods of time


Soothe hunger longer


Soothe hunger longer





Grain products




Dairy Products




Meat and alternatives




Ideas for sustaining and nutritious snacks
  • Fruits and cinnamon sauce;
  • Cranberries bread and milk;
  • Carrots and cinnamon bread and enriched soy beverage;
  • Whole-grain crackers and cheddar cheese;
  • Whole-grain pita and tofu or legumes spread (variation: chick peas, white beans, etc.);
  • Tortillas and chicken or tuna spread;
  • Crackers with cream cheese and fruit purée;
  • Rice cakes with cream cheese and fruit purée;
  • Bagel and cream cheese;
  • English muffin with apple and pear purée and enriched soy beverage;
  • Rolled tortillas with cream cheese and grated carrots;
  • Toast with fruit purée and milk;
  • Homemade oat cookies and milk;
  • Whole-grain carrot cookies and milk;
  • Apple crisp and milk (variations: rhubarb and blueberry or strawberries and pear, etc.)
  • Muffins and enriched soy beverage (variations: pear and apple or blueberry and apple sauce or grated carrots or peaches and dried cranberries, strawberries and blueberries, etc.);
  • Dry cereals and chocolate milk or enriched soy beverage;
  • Fruity cereal bar and milk;
  • Date squares and fortified soy beverage;
  • Mixture of soft tofu and yogurt and frozen fruit.

Source consulted in August 2012

Health Canada. Canada's Food Guide

Nathalie Regimbal

Nathalie Regimbal is a dietician-nutritionist and mother of 3 kids. She oversees Manger Futé, a team of people passionate about diet that empowers those who want to feed children healthily. To demystify nutrition and diet, Nathalie gives advice on the show La Cantine on Channel V. In addition to her collaboration with, you can read her articles in several print and online magazines. Among others, she is a collaborator in nutrition for Yoopa and Célébrons magazines. To make meal time easier for families and initiate kids to cooking, Nathalie has worked hard to write inspiring books: the best-seller Du plaisir à bien manger… 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles, and the Mandoline series of illustrated cook books for children, the latest one having just won the prestigious prize of the best French Healthy cooking book from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2010. To help with meal preparation in daycare centres, the team of dieticians at Manger Futé offers classes and coaching. Manger Futé has also published the practical guides Élaborez rapidement un menu équilibré dans votre service de garde and Élaborez rapidement une politique alimentaire. Discover Nathalie Regimbal's books: Du plaisir à bien manger – 80 recettes gagnantes pour les familles Mandoline – J’ai ça dans le sang! Mandoline – Développe tes défenses naturelles!

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