Ah, summertime…vacations, sun and barbecues. The time of year where kids can be kids and parents have sleepless nights trying to figure out how to keep their kid’s brains from turning into mush and healthy habits flying out the door to a distant galaxy. When kids miss out on the opportunity to flex their brain power during the summer months it can be as harmful to their physical health as it is to their academic health. So, as a parent what can you do to keep your kids healthy and sneak in some education at the same time? HealthyEating.org to the rescue!
Games like Power Up Your Breakfast, where kids learn how to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast, and the MyPlate Match Game that teaches kids about the five food groups can help keep learning on the menu this summer. Teens can get involved too by using TeenBeat to track their daily physical activity. Our interactive games are a great way to keep your kids focused on nutrition throughout the summer months – and beyond!
Summer is also a great time to introduce your child to planning and preparing meals to reinforce learning and nutrition. While children as young as 3 can help scrub potatoes or tear lettuce, once children reach school age, they can take a more active role in meal preparation. Learning to follow a recipe is a life skill that all children need and is applicable to many aspects of life even out of the kitchen. Some of my favorite summertime memories involve being in the kitchen with my Mom and two older brothers (I had to really stand my ground with my brothers if I wanted to help at all) making ice cream during those hot California summers.
Start by having your child choose from an array of kid-friendly recipes and gather all of the ingredients. During preparation, discuss each food group food that is being used and why it is important for them to eat every day. For “extra credit” ask your child how many servings of that food they need every day to be strong and healthy. Having your child measure out the ingredients and reading food labels is a great way to reinforce math skills. Involving your child in meal preparation is a perfect learning opportunity and a great way to spend time with your family!
While summer is a time for kids to be carefree, it’ not a time to take a vacation from good nutrition and learning! How will you keep your healthy kids active this summer?
Megan Mirijanian, Community Nutrition Adviser
Whether the sun is scorching or rain is pouring down, what do we do with energetic children who are eager to play outdoors? We asked moms how they keep their tots active indoors during our “Eat, Play, Love This Summer with Your Tot” #Tips4Tots Twitter Party.
Here are the Top 15 most creative and fun indoor activities for healthy kids shared by the moms who know them best!
What tips would you add to this list? Add them in the comments below and stay tuned for our next #Tips4Tots chat in August.
Best wishes for a healthy, hydrated and happy summer!
Mackenzie Gomes, Dairy Council of California Intern
Recently we have published a number of blogs on childhood feeding around the topics of sugar and getting kids to eat their vegetables.
My registered dietitian nutritionist friend and colleague Marcia Crawford teaches nutrition to university students. Toward the end of the spring quarter, she published a blog that describes her dialogue with the students on recommended versus not-recommended strategies to help children grow up at a healthy weight.
Here is one of the "not-recommended" ideas:
Read her blog, More on Kids and Weight to learn more.
This is especially important in the summer since a recent Harvard study found that children gain more weight in the summer than during the school year.
What are your suggestions to help children develop and grow to a healthy weight?
Visit our Healthy Kids section for more articles, tips, recipes, presentations and a webinar on feeding children.
Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
My San Jose dietitian's book club met recently to discuss our latest read, The Inside Tract by Gerard Mullin, M.D. and Kathie Madonna Swift, registered dietitian nutritionist. We were thrilled to see a popular nutrition book penned by both a medical doctor and a dietitian!
We had high attendance at our meeting since dietitians so often see clients with stomach disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and gastric reflux. Antacids are one of the most commonly taken over-the-counter medications, which is a clear indicator of the scope of the problem.
The book's intended audience is someone who is suffering from gastric distress and is ready to dramatically change their lifestyle. Based on the severity of the distress, the book recommends one of three diet tracks. Track 1 is pretty much a standard, healthy diet based on the principles listed below. Tracks 2 are 3 are designed to give the GI tract a rest, then slowly add foods back to discover and isolate food sensitivities.
Research is quite clear that digestion is very complex and one-size-fits all solutions just don't work. We wondered however, if more consumers actually followed these basic healthy eating principles, the more restrictive food plans would be increasingly unnecessary.
We started to deviate with the authors' perspectives on these topics:
I find the emerging research on gut health to be fascinating and suspect our knowledge on this topic is still in its infancy. Health professionals should stay current on the emerging research and not accept any book currently in print as "the answer".
Book club members, since I couldn't hear all of the conversations around the table, please feel free to add your comments/perspectives below!
Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Celebrate Fourth of July with favorite American dishes and other Red-White-and-Blue themed recipes.
Read on for a complete family meal menu, shopping list and additional recipe selections.
Mom's Mac + Cheese, Dairy Council of California.
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