Fuel Up to Play 60 Gives Tips for a Healthy Summer with the Kids

By: Carlene Helble- Elite Nutrition Intern

Over the past year more than 60,000 schools were involved in ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’, an online challenge between schools. Students kept track of healthy options they took advantage of within their schools and at home. The first place winner was Enslow Middle School of Huntington, WV (yes, Food Revolution Huntington)! One fantastic thing the school did was to hold a taste test event to help choose healthy lunches to be made in their cafeteria, as well as start a walking club.

Even though school is out for summer, it’s important to remember to help kids eat nutritious foods through their vacation. Snacks are an easy way to help teach your family how to prepare healthy dishes in the form of a ‘mini lesson’ providing some great family bonding time and nutrition education rolled into one. Snacks like these strawberry frozen yogurt squares are a good source of calcium and provide a more nutritious alternative to an ice cream cone. Remember that calcium provides growing kids with healthy bones and teeth!  Another good snack to make would be fresh vegetable burritos, filled with fiber and protein, an important component of every part of your body. Try to avoid packaged snacks as they tend to be less nutritious than fresh, home made foods. Cutting up an apple to have with some peanut butter is more nutrient dense than a bag of chips, and will help keep the family healthy during vacation and instill good habits in the kids.

When outside at sports events or family gatherings, it’s crucial that children stay hydrated, especially with hot weather. Remind the kids, and your self, to take a break and have a sip. Some of us don’t even drink as much as we should! Take advantage of the outdoors during summer and aim to be active for 60 minutes per day. Go for a swim, play soccer in the back yard, or flex those creative muscles and make up your own game. You could even take after Enslow Middle School and start a neighborhood walking club. Summer can be a great opportunity to teach your kids how to stay active, and chose healthy foods.

Parents, Teach Your Children Well. Give Them Fruits and Veggies Often!

As a dietitian, food is my life. I spend much of my time helping people try new foods and improve their eating behaviors. (I love my job!) I especially enjoy working with parents. It’s a chance to show them how eating well with their kids can be fun and help build life long habits.

If there is only one piece of advice I have for all parents, it’s easy: serve fruits and vegetables often. So much of our food preferences are formed right at home. Kids learn to enjoy the tastes and flavors of a variety of foods when parents put them on the plate. It might take time to find out what your kids like and certain fruits and vegetables may fall in and out of favor, but it is always important to try. Enjoy healthy meals and snacks with your kids and everyone wins!

Avocados from Mexico is reaching out to parents with a similar important message. They have partnered with actress Holly Robinson Peete on a Public Service Announcement (PSA) inspiring adults to lead by example by making smart food choices their children can emulate. (watch the PSA now)

The goal of the PSA is to help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity by encouraging families to eat more fruits and vegetables. In the PSA, Holly, a mother of four, reminds adults that children observe and follow everything they do and can influence their children’s future eating and exercise habits.

I think Avocados from Mexico and Holly Robinson Peete’s message is an important one. Parents are the best role model for their kids. When it comes to nutrition, there are endless possibilities that the whole family can enjoy. Try snacks like frozen grapes, banana slices with almond butter, and open face whole wheat crackers with a slice of cheese and avocado.

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