During the school year, it seems somewhat easier to maintain a healthy eating plan for your family. Carefully packed lunches and snacks, regularly scheduled dinner hours and earlier bedtimes make controlling what your family consumes a natural part of the daily routine. But being on summer vacation doesn’t mean you have to take a vacation from healthy eating. It just takes a little more planning.
Your kiddos (and their friends) may be in and out of the house and the refrigerator during the more relaxed days of summer, but you can still exercise some control over their day-to-day snacking options, as well as during frequent sleepovers, trips to amusement parks, day camps, and treks to the playground and pool.
Judy Ulery, Austin Whole Body Health’s very own nutrition and lifestyle specialist offers the following tips for keeping snack-happy kids satisfied while also keeping healthy eating habits on track:
- Keep a good supply of the foods you want your family to eat within easy reach. Cut up fresh fruit and veggies and put them into easy-to-grab containers in the fridge. Place nuts and nut butters at eye level in the pantry, and keep yummy ingredients for smoothies on hand. These are all much better options than processed crackers, cakes and cookies.
- Maintain balance in snacks to avoid sugar highs and lows. When kids snack solely on carbs, whether apple slices or crackers, the blood sugar spike makes them feel full for a while and then crash…… and crave more. By dipping apple sticks in almond butter, or adding nitrate-free cuts of meat or jerky to the snack plate, you provide valuable protein that not only prevents a sudden spike in glucose levels but slows down digestion and helps bellies feel full longer.
- Be prepared to help out. If your child eats a certain way due to food allergies or sensitivities, or simply because your family is used to eating clean, consuming junk foods or allergens can make them really ill. Be willing to send shareable snacks to parties or sleepovers so your child can make smart choices without being singled out.
- Don’t ban all treats. Even the healthiest eaters enjoy an occasional splurge. If you treat your crew to a trip to their favorite ice cream parlor, balance out the day with an extra healthy dinner. Or plan ahead for an evening birthday party by eating light and lean earlier in the day.
- Help kids make the connection between unhealthy choices and consequences. Nicely pointing out when junk foods bring on a tummy ache might make them think twice before overindulging in the future.
- Teach kids to always make the best choice possible. Whatever they’re eating — camp cafeteria food, sleepover buffet, or ice cream treat — there is usually a “better” choice even when it seems like there isn’t. Food allergies aside — there simply is no compromise there — choose the most natural, unprocessed, and cleanest foods possible.