Here are 5 easy strategies for on-the-go families to help balance the scales between hectic and healthy!
1. Free Your Refrigerator Of All Sugary Drinks. Here Are Good Replacements.
Sugary drinks like sodas and even certain fruit juices are the largest source of added sugar in the diets of children and adolescents. Increasing consumption of these high caloric beverages is associated with the increasing rates of childhood obesity.
And stock your refrigerator with super-nutritious, lower-calorie drinks like nonfat milk and soymilk. And keep cold water in the refrigerator – perfect for grabbing-and-going.
2. Fill Lunch Boxes with Simple but Super-Healthy Foods
An old favorite, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, gets much healthier if you use 100% whole-wheat bread. Look for lower-sodium varieties, too. You might even find that your child prefers the nutty, firm texture of whole-grain breads to spongy white breads, which often get smashed paper-thin in their lunch box.
Use 100% pure fruit preserves. If your child is a banana lover, slice up a banana instead. Arrange your slices right on top of the peanut butter.
Another simple, healthy lunch idea are rabbit bags. In a zip lock bag, put raw carrots, orange wedges, and apple slices. The oranges give everything nice flavor and aroma and help keep the apple slices from turning too brown.
To ease a reluctant child into veggie snacks, pack a healthy dip, such as a little container of hummus, bean dip, or salsa.
3. Get ‘Em When they’re Hungry
It’s amazing how easily a carrot stick goes down when a child’s ravenous. For many kids, peak hunger hits in the later afternoon, right after school or after-school activities. When they pile into the car, greet them with a big bowl of fresh, cut-up goodies, such as carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, grapes, and watermelon.
Keep the kitchen well stocked with healthy snacks, too, like nonfat yogurts, fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, ready-to-microwave corn on the cob, and popcorn.
For our picky eaters, in which getting down those fruits and vegetables may be more of a challenge, I recommend healthy smoothies. A lot of the pre-packaged smoothies unfortunately are loaded with sugar, but a homemade smoothie packed with fruits and veggies is a great option. At home, we use frozen fruits, some spinach leaves, ice, low fat/fat free yogurt, and low-fat milk. You can add some peanut butter for them if you want it to hold them a bit longer.
4. Keep ‘em moving
This is so important. Get kids moving and set the example for them. Especially now that summer is upon us, encourage your children to be physically active. Get them accustomed to using their feet to get somewhere. Use recreational facilities if there aren’t sidewalks or bike lanes. Encourage lifelong sports like tennis, soccer, and basketball. Stress the participation, not the winning.
5. Make the Most of Downtime
We want our children up and moving as much as possible, but we all know that they love their couch time in front of the TV or other screens, from iPads to smart phones. So while they’re vegging out, serve them platters of fresh, sliced fruits and veggies. They’ll fill up quickly, which means they’re far less likely to get up and go rummaging around for calorie-dense, unhealthy snacks like potato chips. Make the main focus helping your children get into the habit of healthy living with strategies like the above. Healthy habits established early in life pave the way for healthy habits throughout life!