Summer is here! What’s your child eating?
As parents are at work and youth are left at home to fend for themselves, the summer months can have a negative effect on health. Less structure, higher access to unhealthy foods and a lack of physical activity can increase the likelihood of children gaining weight over the summer when compared to the normal school year. In fact, research indicates that children gain weight twice as fast over the summer months.
But, while summer schedules can make healthy eating challenging, there are ways parents can help their child eat smarter and stay healthier this summer. Here are a few suggestions:
Suggest meal and snack times, giving kids a schedule vs. eating all day. Encourage meals and snacks to be eaten at the table vs. in front of the TV or other screens. Have electronic-free meals.
• A fist is the equivalent to a piece of fruit, serving of vegetable, cereal, pasta, potato or rice.
• The palm of their hand is equal to the meat protein they need at lunch and dinner.
• The tip of their thumb is the amount to use for fats and condiments, such as margarine, jelly or honey.
• Estimate a golf ball portion for peanut butter, ketchup, barbecue sauce, dipping sauces and salad dressings.
At the evening meal together, discuss options for meals, snacks and activities so your child doesn’t sleep the whole summer away. Staying active and eating nutritious during the summer can be a challenge for children, but by planning ahead and helping them make smart choices, staying healthy is manageable.