Part I: What My Family Ate On Our Summer Vacation

By: Jodie Shield, MED, RDN

When my kids were little, we loved cooling off on sweltering summer days at the swimming pool attached to our health club.  Call me crazy, or a registered dietitian nutritionist (I am guilty of both!), but I dreaded the concession stand – yes, the health club concession stand! Much to my dismay, all they sold were greasy burgers, hot dogs, fries, candy bars and soda. Of course my kids would beg for this junk food. I admit, every once in a while, I let them splurge. But we went almost every day. So, I packed up a cooler loaded with PBJs, pretzel sticks, grapes, and water bottles. My son, Michael, is now a lifeguard at that very same health club pool and ironically, still brings his lunch.  He reports that the concession stand does sell healthier items such as fruit cups and grilled chicken sandwiches on whole grain buns. But, he also observed that the healthy stuff is outrageously expensive compared to the hot dogs and fries and other junk foods they still sadly enough sell.

Wherever kids hang out – movie theaters, amusement parks, sporting events, beaches, or pools – you’ll find a concession stand selling everything from carrots to cotton candy.  Some selections, like the carrots, are obviously the healthier choice.  Others are not so easy to spot.  Here is a chart to help you steer your fun-loving young ones towards the best picks.


Weighing Your Options at the Concession Stand

Instead of: Order:
Doughnut Soft pretzel
Sausage pizza Cheese or veggie pizza
Hot dog Small turkey sub on whole grain bun
Potato chips Popcorn
French Fries Apple slices or carrot sticks
Soft drink 100% fruit juice or low-fat milk
Sport drink Water
Candy bar Trail mix
Ice cream Frozen yogurt
Chocolate chip cookies Low-fat granola bar
Snow cone 100% fruit juice popsicle

If you’re trying to spend quality time with your kids this summer but disgusted with your food options, check out my blog series: What My Family Ate On Our Summer Vacation.  I am going to offer practical tips to help everyone refuel on healthy foods when eating at concession stands, on road trips, and at fast food chains.  All of the tips come from my book Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens now available as an E-book.


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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N.
Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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