How to keep your kids eating healthy all summer long!
Written for Crave Health by Intern Anika Bertoldi
Kids pack on pounds 2-3 times faster during the summer months than they do during the traditional school year (National summer learning association 2012). The factors contributing to this accelerated weight gain is due to unstructured days at home, many days spent how they, the kids see fit. Television, cell phones, computers filled with endless hours of entertaining social media, and video games, may seem more appealing these days then do riding bikes, swimming in the lake. This social change our society is faced with makes nutrition even more important, starting with children and teens. Meals for the younger family members are something that parents, nannies, grandparents, older kids and teens can all have fun with and help with! Nutrition is one thing that all ages can understand, especially kids. With a little understanding and planning eating this summer can be fun, convenient, and healthy. Below are some great balanced breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and fun activities to get involved with to stay active and healthy until school is back in session….and even beyond!
Start the day off right.
Have a set time the kids get up in the morning, avoiding them sleeping late (like teens like to do) Make sure for them to eat a healthy and well balanced breakfast ready to go to fuel their morning.
- Whole grain frozen waffle (like Kashi brand) spread with nut butter and topped with berries
- Whole grain English muffin sandwich with lean turkey or ham deli meat, egg, and light Swiss or cheddar cheese. ( eggs can be scrambled ahead or easily cooked in a microwave safe dish)
- Overnight oatmeal made with cottage cheese, and their favorite fruit- (fun made and served in a mason jar and eaten cold).
- For kids that can use the blender- a protein shake of fruit, milk, and your favorite protein powder.
- Whole grain cereal with a fat-free or low fat Greek yogurt (instead of milk for more protein)
Stock the fridge with Good for you Snacks in pre-portioned sizes. It helps to guide kids with letting them choose 2 snacks per day. Maybe choose 2/every few days to have on hand to eliminate boredom.
- Cut veggies (cucumber, jicama, carrots, peppers, celery) spread with hummus and wrapped with a slice of deli turkey or ham
- Light string cheese and apple slices
- Beef or turkey jerky (Krave jerky is a great new brand on the market
- Hard boiled eggs
- Kidz Clif Bar spread with 1 Tbsp. of nut butter
- Trail mix (either make your own, or Trader Joe’s has great pre-portioned and affordable mixes)
- Frozen fruit dipped in Greek yogurt
- Homemade Greek yogurt pops (Popsicle molds and recipes can be found at most kitchen stores, and stores like Target and Fred Meyer).
These lunches can be made by kids with a little shopping or prep done ahead- and even toted to picnics, day camps or adventures they may take during the day!
- Bean and cheese burritos, made with whole grain tortilla or wrap, low fat or fat free refried or black beans, and low fat cheese. Top with their favorite salsa, or avocado.
- Turkey, chicken or fish burgers (Trader Joes has great frozen that can be grilled ahead). Serve on whole wheat buns, with cheese. On the side serve veggies and a Greek yogurt dip instead of chips.
- A whole wheat wrap with nut butter, bananas and strawberries (little ones love this one)
- English muffin pizzas, made with whole grain muffins, organic pizza sauce, lean turkey pepperoni or Canadian bacon, low fat cheese, and their favorite veggie toppings
- Whole grain wraps filled with pre-grilled and sliced chicken and veggies, tuna salad or egg salad (made with low or fat free cottage cheese or plain yogurt instead of mayo).
- Apple- bagel sandwich- a whole wheat 100 calorie bagel (like Thomas brand) topped with lean sliced deli ham, low fat cheddar cheese and a slice of apple, sprinkled with cinnamon
With a little shopping and planning done, kid’s daytime meals can be healthy and accessible for them all summer long.
A few other tips found at www.cdc.gov include…
- Have meals pre-portioned for them (they could have designated sandwich bags, or Tupperware with their names on them) Things labeled in the fridge and cupboards for easy things to grab and go.
- Encourage lots of water. Have them decorate their own re-useable water bottles with stickers and pictures to personalize them. Make a goal to have them drink a designated # of bottles per day.
- Limit sugar and artificially sweetened drinks. Ditch the soda. Have flavored seltzer water and cut fruit to flavor water available. Also look for naturally sweetened and lower-calorie drink options.
Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org for more specifics about your child’s needs based on age, sex height and weight. With the right nutrition, daily physical activity and utilizing tools available, we can be sure that our kids grow to become healthy and nutritionally proactive teens and adults!