If the beginning of summer has you (and your kids) thinking about the great pleasures of ice cream and lemonade, join the club! Without a doubt, the season equates to these warm weather faves. No big deal, right? That’s right. As long as these, and other summer treats, are enjoyed in moderation and with plenty of daily outdoor play and other physical activity. What is concerning, however, is that endless food options and too much TV and gaming can cause many children to pack on pounds over the summer break.
With irregular meal and snack times, too much screen time, and not enough playtime, for many young people, summer break has unintentionally evolved into a “break” from healthy living. But summer vacation is an optimal time for all of us, and especially children, to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors. With wide availability to fresh produce and easy access to the outdoors, summer time is the best time to eat and live well. Here are a few ideas for maintaining some structure and well-being during the summer months…
- To prevent all-day munching, help your children maintain a regular meal and snack schedule that includes three meals and one to two snacks per day. Outside of meal and snacks, “close” the kitchen.
- Limit time on all screens combined (TV, computer, games, etc.) to no more than one to two hours per day.
- Limit your child’s consumption of juice, soda, fruit punch, sport/energy drinks, and any other sweet drinks to one cup per day. (Remember: Kids DON’T NEED sport/energy drinks.) Instead, give them water to stay hydrated in the heat.
- At least a couple of times each week, take advantage of local swimming pools, sports camps, tennis and basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, parks, playgrounds, etc.
- Take advantage of summer produce, and prepare each meal with at least one serving each of fruits and veggies. Serve fresh fruit for dessert.
Finally, here are two easy and healthy summer time snacks you can make at home…
BANANA CREAM SMOOTHIE
6 ice cubes
1 banana (sliced and frozen if possible)
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
½ cup low-fat milk or soy milk
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
(optional) 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (about 2 squares)
1. Place ice cubes into blender and crush ice.
2. Place remaining ingredients into blender, except for graham crackers.
3. Blend until smooth.
4. Pour into cups.
5. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon (optional).
Makes 2, 1-cup servings.
1 Bunch collard green leaves (about 10-11 leaves)
Sea salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Wash collards, remove center stem and rip leaves into chip-size pieces.
3. In bowl, toss leaves with olive oil.
4. Mist baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange collard pieces in single layer.
5. Sprinkle salt.
Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly brown and crisp.
Anne Marie Kuchera, our Kids Plus Nutrition Consultant, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian.