School is out! Summer is my favorite time of the year, with longer days, warmer temperatures,and a bounty of fresh seasonal, really what’s not to love. It feels so good to take a break from the hectic school routine and enjoy all the fun summer brings. I am a 80/20 percent mom. The dietitian in me focuses on eating healthy 80 percent of the time and 20 percent of the time for indulgence. Summer is also a great opportunity to expose your kids to a bounty of fresh produce. Check out our 5 tips to keep your kids eating healthy in the summer.
Know your role in feeding and your child’s role:
Parents play an important role in helping establish healthy eating habits. According to Ellyn Satter, feeding expert and dietitian, division of responsibility is one of the most important factors when it comes to feeding kids. It’s the parents role to decide what, when, and where food is being served. Thus, provide healthy, well balanced meals and snacks throughout the summer.
Your child’s role
It is your childs role to decide whether to eat and how much to eat. Letting your child decide how much to eat allows them to recognize and respond to their satiety signals. In the long run, your child will learn how to be an intuitive eater which will lead to a healthier relationship with food.
Offer plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables:
There are endless bbq and get togethers in the summer. I always bring a plate a fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables or a salad to a bbq and trust me there are never any left overs. The extra prep work is worth it. If a plate of watermelon is on the table, its gone within minutes and this dietitian mama couldn’t be happier! This also works well if you have a babysitter in looking after the kids, we can’t expect a teenager to wash and prep veggies the same way you would. We also eat plenty of salads, I mean who wants to cook in the hot summer months. My girls will eat their salads but when they were little we would give them deconstructed salads.
Get them involved and Plant a garden:
I grew up wth a large vegetable garden. I want my girls to have the same experience. I let them chose a vegetable or fruit that they want to grow and take care of them over the summer ( mom does most of the watering). I often catch them in the garden picking cherry tomatoes and snap peas, honestly summer tomatoes taste amazing. Research shows getting your child involved in their food increases their acceptance. Are you growing a garden? what did you plant? If you don’t have a garden space, another fun summer activity is berry picking.
Visit a farmers market:
What a great way to learn where your food comes from. I love going to the farmers market in the summer. There is so much to see, learn and taste. I encourage the girls to try something new. For older kids, get them to talk to a farmer about their farming practices and learn more about what it takes to get our food from farm to table.
Relax and let your kids enjoy an ice cream here or there. Summer deserts like ice cream offer good memories, I know my girls eyes light up when I suggest going for ice cream, plus mama loves a good scoop of vanilla ice cream. My kids came home from camp with frezzies, something I would not serve. But they were happy and I was happy to see them enjoy them. On the weekend, we made our own healthier version and they were just as excited. There are plenty of healthier summer foods like homemade popsicles or nice cream, which makes kids eyes light up too. We recently made these coconut mango pineapple popsicelsor strawberry watermelon popsicles. Homemade treats are a great option as you have control of the ingredients and its a great way to get the kids in the kitchen. The summer goes so quickly and before you know it we will be making school lunches. Enjoy the rest of the summer and go eat that ice cream.