Summer Survival Strategies:
Watch What Active Kids are Eating
Compiled by R. Legault
Summer’s hectic pace – soccer practice, baseball and other outdoor activities – can sometimes cause us to lose track of what our kids “need” instead of what they “want.” Let’s face it, when we’re rushed, we grab anything. Well your kids are much the same. And what they see, they will do.
While we all need a variety of healthy foods every day, our children’s growth and development depends on it. Good food will give your children the energy they need to play, learn, concentrate better, sleep better and build stronger teeth and bones. Here are some things to keep in mind to get kids to eat healthfully, even if you don’t have much time.
Summer meals in a rush
The only rule to keep in mind when planning healthy meals is to include at least three of the four food groups at every meal. All four groups would be best, but – hey – we know how hard it is when you’re rushing around after work. Fruits and vegetables should be part of every meal to ensure we get our daily recommended servings.
Here are some ideas on how to make mealtime family time all the time
• Eat at least one meal together every day.
• Talk to each other. Turn off the television and radio, and read the newspaper later.
• Plan simple and easy meals for the entire week. Get the whole family involved in making a menu for each day.
• Involve your children in making a grocery list and doing the shopping. Watch what active kids are Let the whole family help out with getting supper on the table. (Younger children can set the table and older children can help cook). Take this time to explore different ways to prepare food and talk about new foods.
• Allow each child to choose one or two items that will be served at the meal (for example, their choice of vegetables).
Quick and easy breakfast ideas
• A bowl of cereal with milk and fresh fruit.
• Blend fruit, milk and yoghurt for a breakfast smoothie.
• Toast whole wheat bread and serve with peanut butter and jam.
• Warm up leftovers: last night’s casserole, sliced meat on whole wheat bread, or pizza. • Set the breakfast table the night before, even if it is only for juice and cereal.
• Be a role model and let your child see you eat breakfast too.
• Aim for at least three food groups from Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
Breakfast on the go
Run out of time in the morning? Try a combination of these ingredients:
• Whole wheat bagel, muffin, or granola bar
• Fresh fruit • Fruit juice (100 per cent pure)
• Cereal (in a plastic container)
Some final ideas on kids and food
Get the kids in the kitchen. Encourage kitchen skills by having children make a sandwich or salad. Let them wash vegetables and fruit, and make a simple green salad, tabouli or a fruit salad. Being involved will increase their willingness to try new foods.
Be consistent. If your child isn’t hungry for healthy food, don’t offer unhealthy substitutes — this will only encourage eating for reasons other than hunger.
Give them an encouraging word. Let your children decide how much to eat. Praise them when they make a healthy food choice.
Don’t use food to punish or reward a child. A hug or a book is a much better alternative.
Hungry or not? Children sometimes eat when they’re bored, sad or lonely. Help your children understand when they’re eating for reasons other than hunger.
Let them make their own decisions. At the end of the day, it’s up to your kids to decide whether and how much to eat. Your job is to offer healthy foods at regular intervals.
Call in an expert. If needed, get professional help to solve problems or keep the family motivated. Talk with your doctor or health practitioner or contact a dietitian.