Summer comes with many unhealthy temptations. A break in the usual routine can throw off anyone’s good intentions to eat healthy. Plus, kids are left with months of free time to fill, which often leads to boredom and snacking.
Instead of giving in to demands for sweet treats and salty snacks, prepare for summer with nutritious meal ideas and encourage your children to make their own healthy choices.
Educate Your Kids on Healthy Eating
When kids understand the benefits of eating healthy, they are more likely to develop healthy eating habits themselves. Try to find fun and engaging ways to teach your kids about eating healthy. For example, there are plenty of children’s books that teach kids about where their food comes from and why certain foods are healthier than others. You can also find games online where kids can learn about the origin of healthy foods or how to avoid unhealthy ingredients like sugar or salt. You can even create your own games or visit a farm so kids can see exactly where food originates.
Keep Healthy Snacks Easily Available
When kids have the urge to snack, they’ll grab anything that they can find. So, make sure you always have plenty of healthy choices available. According to USA Today, kids are more likely to eat foods that they choose themselves, so give them options. Some great snack ideas include cut-up fruit with low-fat yogurt, veggies with hummus, or homemade trail mix. Instead of bags of chips, offer whole grain crackers with peanut butter or low-fat cheese. For those hot days when your kids are screaming for ice cream, have some homemade yogurt or juice popsicles ready to pull out of the freezer. Almost every unhealthy snack has a healthy alternative. The best part? Your child might not even notice the difference!
Prepare Meals in Advance for Lazy Days and Outings
Hot summer days often leave you feeling lethargic, making fast food and restaurant outings seem enticing. Instead, stock up your freezer with pre-made healthy meals that you can pop in the oven when you really don’t feel like cooking. Things like stews, soups, chili, or veggie burgers can be prepared in large quantities and frozen in portioned containers. Before you head out for a day at the beach or park, pack a lunch from home so you can avoid buying unhealthy foods on the go.
Have Kids Help You in the Kitchen
Instead of just telling your kids about healthy eating, model good behaviour by showing them how to eat healthy. Get your children involved in the process of meal planning, shopping, and prep. According to CBS News, kids who are taught how to cook actually tend to prefer healthier foods.
Even toddlers can help out in the kitchen. Try handing over the mixing utensils or allowing them to scoop ingredients into your recipe. For a great way to spend free time in the summer, find out if your community offers family cooking classes.
Understand the Mental Health Benefits of Eating Healthy
It’s much easier to make healthy choices when you know the effect that food has on your mood, energy levels, and overall mental health. For example, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which ensure proper brain functioning. Leafy greens are full of folate, which reduces the risk of depression. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also great for mood stabilization.
Remember that everything we do has an impact on the state of our mental health, from what we eat and drink to how we cope with stress and sadness.
Blog post by Dylan Foster of Healthwellwise.com