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Do you remember coming home from school and being absolutely famished? It was so good to have afternoon tea before getting on with the rest of the day. For children, afternoon tea is just another meal like breakfast, lunch or dinner. They may be really hungry as many school-aged kids are, or they may not eat much at this meal. Their hunger will vary from day to day.

“Don’t eat that, it will spoil your dinner”

Some parents limit the amount of food at afternoon tea so that it won’t spoil their child’s dinner. However, children’s hunger doesn’t work like that. Children that don’t satisfy their hunger at afternoon tea are often the ones that are continually asking for food or getting into the pantry or fridge to grab something to eat. It is in fact this type of snacking that spoils their appetite for dinner as they end up not hungry at dinnertime.  And it is this ‘snacking’ that gets parents annoyed and creates tension between them and their child as they continually at them to ‘get out of the kitchen’.

The solution is pretty simple: offer children afternoon tea that will fill them up and keep them going until dinner. Like other meals, this would typically include foods that contain protein, fat and carbohydrate. For example:

  • Crackers (carbohydrate) and cheese (protein and fat) and fruit
  • Toast and spreads such as peanut butter, hommus, butter and vegemite
  • Fruit and yogurt
  • Crumpets and milk with MiloÒ
  • Crackers and dip
  • A milkshake or fruit smoothie
  • Pikelets and hot chocolate
  • Toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Baked beans and toast
  • Leftover pasta with cheese
  • Cereal and milk
  • Dry cereal and fruit and milk to drink
  • Raisin toast and fruit
  • Biscuits and milk
  • Croissants and fruit
  • Hot cross bun or fruit bun with butter

You can add raw vegetables when you offer fruit or with crackers and cheese or dip.

Make sure you have plenty of the carbohydrate food available so that they can have more if they want.

Let children decide how much to eat

As with all meals, let children decide how much to eat at afternoon tea. Children eat according to their hunger and will eat the amount that satisfies them. They don’t think like adults, so for them dinner is not necessarily the ‘main meal’ of the day. They may eat more at breakfast or afternoon tea than they do at dinner. That’s fine as the foods you offer at each meal are, most of the time, nutritious and filling.