Summertime is usually filled with fun family activities. BBQ’s, water parks, and trips to the zoo are a great way to spend the day together as a family. But, they don’t provide the healthiest options when it comes to food. It’s easy for the kiddies to overload on sugary drinks, candy and salty snacks.
A treat here and there isn’t a problem. The problem is when the ‘treat’ becomes the norm. The lull of the warm weather, outdoor play and endless fun times often takes over and before we know it, Junior has had ice cream and pizza for every meal. Why? “Because we’re on vacation,” you tell yourself. Or, “Between camp, dance class, soccer and swim team, it’s just easier to grab something on the run.”
I am by no means saying every parent, or child, is like this. Some parents are amazing at making sure their kids eat a healthy, well-balanced meal, no matter what’s going on. But, others are not. For example, there is no reason for an 8 year-old to get a jumbo popcorn and soda at the movies. That’s why they have the kiddy meal. But, I see this all the time, and frankly, it totally perplexes me. For the sake of full disclosure, I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how hard it is for a parent to say ‘No’ in that type of situation.
But I do know that summertime eating is just as hard for adults, too. A burger and beer at the ballpark and potato salad and chips at a BBQ are just as difficult to avoid. But there are things you can do to make smart decisions as a family.
So what’s the solution? I challenge you to take this summer to learn to eat healthy as a family. School’s out and there is more time to sit and talk with your kids. Have everyone play a role. From the toddler to the teenager. Here are some ideas:
- Plan dinner menus as a family. Let the kids come up with ideas. If it’s pizza, steer them in the direction of making healthier homemade pizzas at home. If it’s dessert, show them how to make yummy desserts using fruit.
- Let them join in on the shopping and meal prep. The more kids are involved in the preparation of food, the more interested (and adventurous) they will become. But don't make grocery shopping seem like a chore. Let them pick out new and different foods, or even be in charge of reading off the grocery list.
- Make snack time fun! Ants on a log or fruit skewers are so much cooler than apple slices or a pack of plain old raisins. Teens will also appreciate a 'cooler' approach to snack time.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Don’t let the summer get away from you. Take advantage of the longer days and more time as a family to make eating healthy a family activity. Who knows, you may even be able to get the kids to pack their own–healthier-lunches by the time school starts again. Good Luck!