Help your child stay healthy by combatting the "lazy days of summer" with good nutrition and exercise.
Summer poses particular nutritional challenges with ball games, carnivals, vacations and barbecues. Keeping kids active can also be a chore. The good news is summer offers plenty of opportunities for healthy eating and activity.
Before getting into the routine of back-to-school time, take advantage of the healthy produce that fills farmers' market shelves and local stores. Getting kids on board can sometimes be tricky, but our experts have suggestions for making the most of summer's bounty.
Tips for healthy eating
Kristin Morrow, RD, LDN, CDE, a nutritionist with Doylestown Health's Nutrition Services, offers the following tips and a quick recipe idea:
- Take kids to a weekly farmer's market or a pick-your-own fruit or veggies farm so they can choose their own fruits and veggies at their ripest.There's nothing like picking a fresh cherry tomato, a snappy green bean, or crunchy apple right from the source and tasting it on the spot.
- Make veggies the main part of a meal or snack, like grilled cauliflower steaks, eggplant and zucchini skewers, pizza hummus (*recipe below) or herbed popcorn (toss plain popcorn lightly in olive oil, then toss with chopped chives, oregano, rosemary and black pepper, or even chili powder for a real kick!)
- If choosing a dessert, plan to head to the ice cream or water ice stand on foot or on bikes, instead of driving. Discuss with kids that a healthy serving of these sweet treats is about the size of half a baseball to a whole baseball.
- As the weather becomes cooler, plan on having your kids plant some cooler weather crops at home for the late summer or early fall, like lettuces, radishes, beets, spinach or other leafy greens. Kids who participate in growing veggies are more likely to be receptive to eating them.
The role parents play
When it comes to teaching healthy habits, parents play a major role, notes pediatrician William D. Moore, DO.
"Parents can promote a healthy lifestyle for their kids by being healthy role models," says Dr. Moore. "Parents control what their children eat. Fill your kitchen with nutritious foods so kids will have fewer options and more of a reason to eat fruits and vegetables when they're hungry."
Parents who exercise also influence their children's behaviors.
"Parents can encourage older kids to get busy by shooting hoops, going for a swim or taking the dog for a walk. If you want to get really serious, bet your kid you can beat them at a mile run or a ten-mile bike ride! That's when the fun really starts," says Moore.
Pizza Hummus [Recipe]
Try Kristin's quick and easy *Pizza Hummus recipe.
- 1 16-ounce can of chickpeas or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (seeds removed if desired)
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp. dry)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp. dry)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
Place all ingredients into a food processor and puree for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Serve hummus as a dip for raw veggies and whole-grain crackers, or as a spread on your favorite sandwich or in a wrap.
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About Pediatric Services
Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children's services to Bucks and Montgomery County communities. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services.