Summer is the time when children have less structure and this could lead to some weight gain. The following tips may help your family stay healthy and tip top shape
- Keep sugary drinks at bay. Limit the number of sodas, fruit punches, and other drinks as much as possible. For instance, offer only 4 ounces of fruit juice per day. They contain more calories but less nutrients and fiber than the whole fruit.
- Limit their screen time. Time spent watching TV, laptops and smart phones is a significant predictor of excess weight. Studies indicate that kids who watch more than 4 hours in a day are more likely to be overweight than those who watch 2 hours or less. They are less physically active, eat less fruits and vegetables, and snack more on advertised junk foods.
- Steer away from processed and prepackaged foods. Instead, have visible fruits and vegetables available on the kitchen counter and dining table. Serve them with a toothpick or an umbrella for a fun experience.
- Provide some structure. Don’t allow your child to skip any meals, Research shows that children who miss breakfast are more likely to eat poorly at a later time. Also keep in mind that breakfast boost their metabolism.
- Encourage mindful eating. Kids who eat while doing another activity, tend to eat more. When distracted, their brains will have a harder time to get the message that they are full. They will also eat hurriedly without enjoying the experience.
- Watch portion sizes. Offer foods from all food groups and use them in moderation. Remember they need 2 servings of lean proteins such as poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts; 3 to 5 servings of vegetables; 2 to 4 servings of fruits; 6 to 11 servings of whole grains and Fats, and 2 servings of low-fat dairy products.
Ideas for good meals and snacks
Easy breakfasts :
- Cold cereal, fruit or raisins, low-fat milk
- Whole-wheat toast w/ peanut butter
- Yogurt w/ fruit
- Whole-grain waffles
- Bagel topped w/low-fat cheese
- Toasted English muffin w/ peanut butter
- Ready-to-eat hot cereals
- Cooked egg with toast & jelly
- Apples, celery, carrot, cucumber with peanut butter, dry cereal, pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, animal crackers
- Fig/fruit bars, low fat cheeses and crackers, dried fruit and nuts
- Fruit popsicles, frozen yogurt, sherbet, milk shakes with low fat milk
For main meals: Always include one food from each food group:
- Lean meats (chicken, tuna, salmon)
- Green leaves (spinach)
- Legumes (beans and peas)
- Fortified or whole-grain cereal products
- Potatoes w/skin