Spring is here, can summer be far behind? The kids are moving outdoors, playing basketball, riding bikes and swimming, and delicious treats like ice cream are waiting. For children, it seems like there is a lot of activity and fun food to look forward to! However, with increasing numbers of kids gaining weight, as a caring parent, you know it is important to balance eating and activity. You should plan and follow a routine to enjoy the warmer weather and stay healthy.
You may ask why? Try to wind back the clock to when you yourself were a kid. You were active but had a lot more unscheduled activity. Nobody counted the hours of play; it seemed a bummer when it got dark, and you were summoned indoors. Obesity rates were low, children had more friends and companionship, and mental health issues were rare. Now the kid’s diary is busier than ever. Play outside is monitored and outside activity may more likely be in somebody’s swimming pool, yard or home. Back when you were a child, snacks were not a big deal. They were mostly fruits, and homemade lemonade was the cooling drink. Children had homemade meals and wanted to play outside. Television shows were scheduled and there were no devices to entice children to stay indoors. Our world has changed so rapidly that for children to stay healthy and happy you must pick and choose what works for your family.
One strategy for parents is to reconstruct what parents experienced when they were young. Staying with the family experience and culture may be easier than reconstructing a new norm.
Do get children to finish their breakfast before they go to camp or play. A carbohydrate heavy breakfast like pancakes with syrup may need to be tweaked. Remember to add protein to each meal, such as an egg. Watch the portions. For extras stay with fruits, vegetables, and yogurts.
Keep an eye on kids’ activity. It is important to differentiate when children are active, as opposed to just socializing, like hanging out in the water. They should be encouraged to swim first, and then hang out. Games like playing in the pool with a floating ball will promote healthy activity and make hanging out in the pool more fun.
Serve meals that are easy to prepare and healthy, with real food. Make a chicken salad, or sandwiches and serve a fruit like watermelon. Each person can have a small individual bowl for salad and another for watermelon. They will be satisfied and not feel they have to watch portions. For drinks, let them make fresh lemonade, it’s delicious! For one glass of lemonade use real lemons and two teaspoons of sugar. Add ice for a chilled drink. Limit the amount and number of drinks, give water. Serve food restaurant style, and bring only as is required to the table.
Lay a pretty table. Food and drink should be consumed at the table and don’t let food be taken to the pool. The family should eat together, clear up and close out mealtime.
Your child will remember this summer fondly. Try it, this will be so much fun!