While the idea of summer conjures images of relaxing, reconnecting and fun in the sun, it can be disruptive for children’s routines, particularly when it comes to healthy eating. Whether it is getting bored at home where food is easily accessible, snacking too much or traveling, the summer seems to present distraction after distraction from our regular healthy eating habits. However, there are ways to harness the excitement of summer yet still keep healthy eating at the forefront. Here are my five tips for keeping a healthy summer eating routine:
1. Plan out meals and snacks in advance. Meal planning is the best way to keep everyone on track when it comes to healthy, well-rounded meals. Get the whole family involved by assigning each family member with planning for several days of the week. Help your little one with her days by presenting a few options he can choose from for meals. Post your weekly schedule in a visible place where everyone can see it. This helps stay on track, not to mention really saves parents stress, time and money in the long run. For more on meal planning, see Menu Planning 101.
2. Establish times when the kitchen is open and closed. Your child should not be allowed to graze or snack all day. Outside of meals and established snacks, there shouldn’t be any need for your child to be in the kitchen, with the exception of to hydration. In the summer heat it is vital to drink plenty of water, especially for children.
3. A trip to your local farmer’s market or u-pick farm will provide visuals for your child of fresh produce that will support your healthy summer eating routine. Make it a fun adventure so your child can learn more about the food you eat and make a game out of coming up with recipes for what you find. Engaging your child in this manner makes him more likely to try new foods. Visit Local Harvest and Pick Your Own to find local farmers markets.
4. Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand and ready-to-eat. Placing fruits and vegetables out on the counter or at the front of the refrigerator makes them easily visible and more likely to be grabbed on the go. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is particularly relevant here!
5. Pack a cooler with healthy snacks for road trips and long outings. Read my Smart Snacking for Families post to get some ideas and a yummy homemade granola bar recipe that is quick and easy.
How do you keep better eating a priority for your family during the summer months?