Are protein bars healthy snacks for kids

What Parents Should Know About Protein Bars By Melanie Battaglia, MS, RDN, LDN

While protein bars are a convenient snack that can be used in ‘on the go’ situations for adults and children alike, many parents wonder if they are a good snack option for kids and teens. The answer, is that it depends on certain factors, such as time, access to whole food sources and diet quality. Protein bars are definitely a convenient way to hit protein goals on the go.

Is it healthy to eat a protein bar every day?

Protein bars are certainly useful for times when you don’t have time to prep a whole foods alternative and for when you need a non-perishable option. But, does that mean they’re a good option for every day that you or your child gets a lot of exercise? Whole foods containing protein should be used first if possible because not only do whole foods provide protein, but they also have natural sources of vitamins, fiber and nutrients. Whole food sources can also be more satisfying than a protein bar. Still, eating a protein bar every day can be healthy if a variety of other foods are eaten throughout the day. There are countless protein bars available and some are minimally processed that use food sources of protein, such as nuts and seeds.

What is the best protein bar to select?

When choosing a protein bar, look at the total grams of protein and aim for bars that contain 25 grams or less of protein. When protein bars exceed 25 grams, the excess protein is excreted or stored in the body as fat. Look at the ingredient list because the shorter the list often indicates less processing. As a post-workout snack, I generally recommend having a source of protein that contains at least eight to ten grams of protein. For sugar, aim for bars that contain minimal added sugars to help promote sustained energy.

What are some good alternatives to protein bars?

  • Nut and seed mix
  • Dried roasted edamame
  • Baked chickpeas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Beef jerky
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Chicken or turkey


Celiac: One Family's Journey Through a Surprising Diagnosis

Celiac: One Family’s Journey Through a Surprising Diagnosis Series 2 Episode 5

Join Betsy and Jen as they interview Dr. Jen Rubin, Children’s Neurologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, as she shares the story of her family’s journey through the recent diagnosis of both EoE and Celiac in her 6 year old son, Grant. Jen’s thoughtful and honest reflection on how this diagnosis has affected her family is an episode not to miss.

Click here to listen on iTunes

Kids (and adults!) with gastro-esophageal reflux

Kids (and adults!) with gastro-esophageal reflux Season 2: Episode 4

Betsy and Jen discuss their personal and family experience with reflux, as well as tips for management by diet. What foods and what timing affects symptoms? What makes reflux more tolerable? if you’ve struggled with the annoying problem, tune in for tips and ideas!

Click here to listen on iTunes

drinking coffee while breastfeeding

Ask Amanda: Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding Your Questions Answered By Our Expert RD

Hi Amanda.  Is it ok to drink coffee while breastfeeding? I keep seeing conflicting information about this.

Great question. One that many bleary-eyed, sleep deprived breastfeeding moms have questions about. The answer is yes, but read on to learn about what the science says.

The caffeine in coffee does enter breastmilk but in fairly small amounts. While there is some differing research, the general consensus is that 200-300 mg of caffeine per day consumed by a breastfeeding mom (or the equivalent of two 8 oz cups of coffee) is considered safe for breastfed babies.

In studies, caffeine consumption can cause irritability and poor sleeping patterns in infants, with increased symptoms noted in breastfed infants whose mother’s consumed greater than 300 mg of caffeine per day while breastfeeding.  However, this can be tricky to figure out in a breastfed infant, who can likely have interesting sleeping and feeding patterns initially!  Every baby’s caffeine tolerance is different.

Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can also be dehydrating, so be sure to drink extra water when drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages or foods.

Before you run out to order your favorite coffee brand or coffee drink, do your research.  CSPI has a good list of the amount of caffeine in food and drinks that you can use to avoid going over the 200-300 mg per day recommendation for breastfeeding mothers.

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

Eosino with Dr. Vince Biank

Eosino-WHAT??? with Dr. Vince Biank Season 2: Episode 3

Jen and Betsy are very excited to share this informative and eye opening interview with Dr. Vince Biank, pediatric gastoenterologist at North Shore University Health System! Listen in to hear about reflux disease, and eosinophilic esophagitis, an uncommon allergic condition that can’t be picked up during typical allergy testing. Not to be missed for anyone who’s child has struggled with reflux, difficulty swallowing, poor growth, and environmental allergies.

Click here to listen on iTunes

How long should I breastfeed

Ask Amanda: How Long Should I Breastfeed Your Questions Answered by Our Expert RD

My little one is quickly approaching one year old and I am breastfeeding.  I’d like to nurse as long as possible and have my breastfeeding relationship with him preserved.  Is there any reason I need to stop breastfeeding after he turns one?  Do I need to think about weaning him from breastfeeding?

Thanks for asking this question!  Without knowing the specifics, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both emphasize weaning is not the termination of breastfeeding but the addition of solids. I think this can often be misunderstood.

Breastfeeding can continue to have health and emotional benefits for both the mother and child well beyond one year.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

The American Academy of Family Physicians indicates that “health outcomes for mothers and babies are best when breastfeeding continues for at least two years” and “breastfeeding should continue as long as mutually desired by mother and child.”

There can be nutritional benefits to prolonged breastfeeding as well.  Some studies indicate that human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for more than a year has significantly increased fat and energy contents compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods.

I say – nurse on! The science is behind you.

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

kids and constipation podcast

Kids and constipation: How do we keep things moving? Season 2: Episode 2

Special guest Elana Comrov, pediatrician at Pediatric Health Care Associates, joins Betsy and Jen for this fun and informative chat about the most common complaint at the pediatrician’s office and one of life’s most basic human functions: belly pain and pooping! Most of us have struggled at one point or another, and many of our kids have struggled too.  There are some basic things you can do to make things move more easily, and then you need to know when it’s time to take it to the next level. Don’t miss this great episode!

Nutrition podcast GI issues

Feed to Succeed Podcast: Intro to Kids’ Nutrition and GI Season 2: Episode 1

Welcome to the season 2 opening show with co-hosts Betsy Hjelmgren and Jen Karakosta! Jen and Betsy are taking it deeper this season – beyond the eating and down to the digestion. Listen in to hear about infant reflux, constipation, and more troublesome childhood GI issues; then tune it to the next several episodes as Betsy and Jen explore the connection between nutrition and GI both in wellness and disease.