By: Jodie Shield, RD
Summer vacation is here! But that doesn’t mean your kids should take a break from healthy eating. No matter where your family goes this summer, there are sure to be the usual dietary temptations: hot dogs, French fries, potato chips, and soda pop. Not only are these concession-stand choices expensive, but they’re loaded with fat and calories and are devoid of nutrients that kids need such as calcium and iron. While theses foods are OK in moderation, it’s better to reserve this menu for activities your family participates in every once in a while, like your annual trek to the state fair or a family outing to the ballpark.
Rather than ban foods, help your child learn which ones are healthier options. Instead look for foods that are lower in fat and more nutritious. Some healthier options include:
- grilled chicken sandwich
- cheese pizza
- chef’s salad
- soft pretzels popcorn
- frozen yogurt
- fruit juice pops
- Italian ices.
If you opt to bring your own meals, follow some of these strategies for safe and pleasurable outdoor eating.
- Bring a cooler to keep foods cold and to prevent them from spoiling.
- Serve prepackaged foods and drinks, such as single-serve cereals, string cheese, individual packs of pretzels, or fruit juice boxes. They’re easy to serve and more convenient to carry.
- If you’re at an amusement park or the zoo, you may want to carry these snacks in a backpack or fanny pack – strollers and wagons work well for transporting healthy snacks too.
- Offer your child plenty of water to keep her hydrated. (You may want to take a water bottle with you.) If treating your child to a soda, opt for a decaffeinated or diet one. Juice is also an option.
- Take along drinks in unbreakable plastic containers. These items are safer, and they’re acceptable at public pools, where glass containers are usually banned.
Bottom line: If you plan your eating strategy in advance and know the healthiest options, you’ll be in great shape for any on-th-go eating event.