We all know that the second summer hits, routines go out the window. So how can we keep our kids eating healthy when they’re hanging around the kitchen all day? Registered Dietician Trish Brimhall has five tips to keep us on a healthy summer schedule.
1. Maintain a regular mealtime. During the summer schedules change and sometimes disappear completely. Keep a routine time for breakfast, lunch and dinner as much as possible. Otherwise, breakfast gets skipped as kids sleep in, lunch gets delayed as errands run long, and a sit-down, family dinner doesn’t materialize as kids want to keep playing instead of coming in for dinner. Without regular meals, we all tend to grab the quick and easy snack foods instead of a variety of healthful, balanced foods.
2. Make water the go-to beverage. Keep water bottles in the house instead of sports drinks, Capri Sun, and juice boxes. Our bodies need the hydration – no the extra sugar and empty calories.
3. Keep emergency ‘smart snacks’ in the car. Small snack bags of dried fruit, pretzels, nuts or even some high fiber granola bars and water bottles can really save the day nutritionally if you find yourself out longer than expected and that drive-thru sounds awfully tempting. A small snack in the car can quiet the hungry kids and buy you enough time to get home and prepare a quick salad or whole grain pasta dish. Even a pb&j is a better option than a kids meal.
4. Bring kids into the kitchen. Summer provides a great opportunity to teach kids how to cook. Take advantage of having them home to teach them to cook breakfast, experiment with crockpot meals, or try some more exotic recipes. If they are too young to cook – at least involve them in menu planning. The more input kids have into meals, the more likely they are to eat.
5. Eat plants. (or if that sounds a bit blunt, maybe Savor seasonal produce) There is so much fresh produce available during the summer – be sure to provide fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks. Try frozen grapes or frozen melon instead of popsicles. Make homemade smoothies for a mid-afternoon snack on hot days. Keep veggies washed and ready to grab in the fridge for snacks and mealtimes. When you help your kids plan the meals they want to cook – encourage them to choose at least one fruit and one vegetable to serve with each meal.