Kid-Friendly Summer Nutrition

Summer time for children and families often includes a trip to the amusement park, a beach adventure or some type of outdoor fun. But with doses of hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, nachos and ice cream, you may think your family is destined for a vacation of high-calorie, nutritionally empty meals and snacks.

“Summer time fun does not need to result in a vacation from your healthy habits,” says Natalie Castro, chief wellness dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She offers these four tips to keep the family healthy while exploring different places this summer:

    1. Stick to a plan. Long commutes may leave kids asking for more snacks due to boredom. Anticipate this, and be prepared with a plan. Explain when and where you will be eating. This provides structure and something to look forward to. Make a strong effort to stick to your normal eating schedule and routines.
    2. Bring your own snacks. Prepare for travel by bringing items with you. Pack fresh fruit, nuts and whole grain cereal. In an insulated cooler bag, pack yogurt, sandwiches and healthy sides, such as raw veggies (baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers, etc.), hummus or quinoa salad.
    3. Sip smart. It’s hot! Stay hydrated. Always carry a refillable bottle of water with you. Having visible access to water increases the chances of someone reaching for a sip. Drinking water throughout the day will prevent dehydration. Simple signs of dehydration are headaches, fatigue and confusion.
    4. Snoop around. Explore the food options at your destination. Doing so before you arrive can help reduce the stress of figuring out where to eat. More places are offering healthier alternatives. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, such as grilled or baked preparation instead of fried, or a side salad in place of French fries.


Healthy Summer Eating

Without a regular school schedule in place, summer breaks can sometimes turn into a vacation from healthy eating. Cooling down with warm-weather favorites such as ice cream and popsicles, along with a tendency to snack more in between regular meals, can be easy deterrents to a balanced diet. Ms. Castro offers parents these tips:

  • Keep kids on an eating and snacking schedule: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. This helps them fend off hunger and stops mindless munching between meals. Make the kitchen off-limits unless it’s time for a meal or a planned snack.
  • Limit calorie-rich juices, sodas and other liquids. To keep children hydrated in the heat, give them plenty of water and help them avoid sugary beverages that have no effect on quenching thirst.
  • Make summer’s produce the centerpiece of meals. Visit a farmer’s market with your children, and prepare meals together using fresh, wholesome ingredients. Better yet, designate a section of your yard as a place where your child can plant his or her own vegetables. Then let your child harvest the veggies and help decide how to eat them.
  • Encourage activity.  Limit “screen time” to no more than one to two hours a day – that includes both the computer and TV.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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