Summer is a great time to "reset" kids eating habits’there are so many delicious in-season fruits and veggies to enjoy that it’s easy to show them how good healthy eating can be. U.S.-based registered dietitian, and mom of 3, Deirdre Pizzoferrato is big on getting kids to eat healthily using "snack-tivities". She founded the company Beanstalk Express, which provides information on the importance of nutrition at different developmental stages in a child’s life and the site also sells her SnackTime Survival Kit. Here are some of Pizzoferrato’s tips for healthy snacking.
Make it a hands-on experience
Aside from a fun family bonding experience, picking berries’or any fruit’empowers children with a sense of accomplishment. Building a positive association with healthy food helps build acceptance’and healthy habits that last.
Stock up on fresh fruit
Take advantage of the most bountiful time of the year. Peaches, berries and melons are at their peak during summer months. From fruit salads to smoothies, fruit is a must-have staple for healthy summer snacking. And don’t forget’you can freeze fresh fruit, too.
Serve snacks in interesting ways
Present your kids with a variety of colourful seasonal vegetables. Try filling a muffin tin (which come in great colours now, too) with a variety of fresh veggies in the cups along with some healthy dips, such as hummus or low-fat ranch. Make it fun and they will come.
A cup of whole grain pasta salad can be a nutritious and easy snack, and with a little creativity’it can be lots of fun, too. Have a batch of cooked pasta on hand, and let your kids make their own pasta salad. Provide some fresh chopped veggies, cheeses, fruit and nuts they can add to make this a "win-win" snack.
Looking for an alternative to full-fat ice cream or sugar-laden frozen ices? Help kids make freezer fruit pops instead. Use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes from a 1-inch slice of seedless watermelon, insert a popsicle stick into the bottom and place it on tin foil and pop it in the freezer. Frozen fruit on a stick’yum!
Be picky with processed snacks
If you still buy some processed snack food, be sure to read the label. Aim for those that contain less than 20 percent of the daily value for sodium and fat, and less than 7 grams of sugar per serving.
Point them to the faucet more often
It’s important to keep kids hydrated during the hot summer months, but instead of reaching for the faucet, kids tend to head to the fridge. Too many sweetened beverages not only fail to properly hydrate kids, but they add a lot of empty calories. Limit sweetened drinks to 6 to 8 oz a day and then point them in the direction of the tap!