Healthy For Life Summer Tips
By Tracy Bryars, RD, CDE, CLE
Healthy for Life/PE4ME Program Manager
- Hydrate with healthy beverages. “Rethink Your Drink” by choosing at least six eight-ounce cups of water each day, calcium-rich low fat or nonfat milk and 100 percent juices. Avoid sweetened beverages like soda, vitamin waters or energy drinks that only empty calories.
- Eat meals together as a family to encourage unity, foster communication skills and improve nutrition and eating behavior. Involve all family members in the food preparation. Experiment with summer seasonal fruits and vegetables dishes.
- Active kids are happy, well balanced and fit kids. Children and teens need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Swimming, cycling, skating, tennis, running, karate and playing at the park are excellent ways to enjoy physical activity. Encourage activity that your child or teen enjoys and make it a daily habit!
- Limit sedentary activity, which includes all forms of screen time (television, video games, computer, hand held games, cell phones and iPods), to two hours or less a day. If your child or teen has a television in their room, challenge them to remove it for the summer.
- Try portion control when eating out. Request the menu nutrition fact information to help make healthier choices. Select fish, poultry and meat entrees that are baked, broiled or stir-fried. Substitute fruit and vegetables for home fries and French fries. Consider an appetizer-size portion or share a meal.
- Healthy snacks include fruits and vegetables that provide children and teens with the potassium, vitamins A and C, magnesium and fiber that may be lacking in their diet. These naturally nutrient-rich and mostly fat-free snacks are loaded with antioxidants that also help to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
- Yes to whole grains that provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, B-vitamins and quick energy. Look for items that list whole grains as the first or second ingredient on the label. Excellent choices include oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, crunchy whole grain crackers and cereals.
- 4 the start of every day, be sure to include a healthy breakfast. Breaking the overnight fast with a little protein (an egg, low-fat yogurt or peanut butter), high-octane carbohydrate (whole grain toast, cereal or waffle), and some fresh fruit (mandarin orange, strawberries or banana) will supply children and teens with the energy needed to perform their daily activities at peak performance.
- Lighten up by promoting good health instead of focusing on weight. Encouraging a healthy body image is crucial to your child or teen’s ability to succeed academically in school, physically during activities and socially with their peers. Body image disturbances can begin as early as preschool. Parents can serve as healthy role models by choosing nutritious foods and engaging in an active lifestyle that promotes health.
- Initiate family outings at the park, beach, lake or community pool. Play outside games together such as Red Light-Green Light, Simon Says, Hide-n-Seek and Tag!
- Foster your child or teen’s ability to identify internal signals to decide how much to eat and what to eat. Remember it takes our brain 20 minutes to recognize that it has been fed. Provide a variety of well balanced foods at each meal and sufficient time to eat in a relaxed environment.
- Every day is a new day to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices. Encourage your child or teen to make 80 percent of their food choices nutrient-rich and use the remaining 20 percent for “fun” food choices during special occasions and celebrations like birthday parties.