by Denise Del Colle, RN
Now that school is out, kids have less structure; do more traveling and perhaps go to camps with less rigid nutritional standards than both the schools or your nightly dinner. That sets up a parent's carefully planned diet to most likely fall apart over the summer months.
In an effort to ensure a nutritious lifestyle, even on vacation, here are a few tips you may want to try.
- Fill the fridge or your picnic packs with fresh, raw fruits and vegetables to be eaten out of hand. Fill up Ziplock bags with baby carrots, sliced celery, snap peas and yellow peppers, mild squash and zucchini, sliced apples, of course, and loads of juicy grapes. Try taking the family on a trip to the produce cart or farmer's market and let them pick out their favorite new veggies to try. When you put out a plate of cut veggies, instead of chips, with some dip or hummus, you'll be surprised at how your hungry children will dig in.
- Fruit smoothies with protein powder, yogurt, banana, nut butters, flaxseed, orange juice (or your own combination) is a good way to get a lot of nutrition in one fast drink and start their happy day in the morning. Have a taste testing event allowing each family member to make their own concoction and rank the others for color, texture and taste. Have some fun with new recipes.
- The bulk aisles in the grocery are full of ingredients to create your own nut and fruit trail mix. The kids are great helpers in devising your own family recipe, adding dark chocolate bits for fun. It only takes a couple of handfuls of this healthy mix to fill up a hungry tummy on a hike or camp out. And, it's a much better snack than chips and pop for mid-summer days.
- Some of the stores are carrying locally made power bars with nutritious ingredients, but they can be expensive. There are homemade recipes available to help you make your own energy bars, with endless variations. Empty snack calories will spike and drop your energy quickly, but these treat bars will satiate the hunger for a couple of hours.
- When traveling, bring along your trail mix, healthy treats and a cooler full of natural food. It's more affordable and better for you than any of the packaged foods and will help the kids stay full and happy on the road.
Have fun this summer, and on vacation, but remember to take a little extra time to help your family stay healthy, with plenty of energy while on-the-go.