If you are anything like me you are thinking, “Is that it? This school year is over?” We have made it to June, days are longer, the temperature is hotter … and your kiddos are bored. Don’t let boredom turn eating into an activity. Instead, follow these simple steps to keep your family’s health habits on track through the summer.
Step 1: Do a pantry inventory.
Look through your pantry and see what’s available. Do you see chips, cookies, sugary cereals, fruit snacks? What drinks are available? Soda, drink pouches, powdered drink mixes? Let this supply run out, then don’t buy any more. This is really important for summertime when boredom takes over and food/eating becomes an activity. Think chips vs. an unwashed un-cut container of strawberries. Which will be eaten first? That’s right, chips. Think out of sight, out of mind! You as the parent have to be OK with your child eating something if it is in your house.
Step 2: Make a grocery list and shop the perimeter.
Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat/fat-free dairy. When venturing to the snack aisle – trade fruit snacks for unsweetened applesauce and fruit cups packed in 100% juice or light syrup; choose whole wheat crackers and whole wheat pretzels over chips; swap sugary granola bars for a kiddo-approved trail mix (watch the added candies). Choose low-fat yogurt and cheese sticks.
Step 3: Make healthy food easy (and fun) to eat!
Wash and cut fresh fruits and vegetables. Place at your children’s eye level.
Pre-portion crackers, trail mix, and salad dressings for portion control and to make them easy to take on the go. Use cookie cutters to cut melon or sandwiches into shapes. Be silly with your snacks and turn food into art!
Step 4: Involve your children in planning and preparing.
Have your children pick out a fruit or vegetable to try every week. Your job as Mom or dDad is to purchase and prepare it. If it doesn’t turn out so well the first time, try not to turn your nose up at it. Let your child determine his/her own food preference without Mom or Dad saying, “Yuck!”