June Dairy Month: Tips to Keep Kids Healthy This SummerThe Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
School’s out, and that means a welcome break for kids and their parents. It’s easy to believe that the warm weather means your kids will be more physically active, and that they will increase their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, but that’s not always the case. Research shows healthy habits, such as eating right and getting enough exercise, often take a vacation as the mercury rises.
Keeping kids in a healthy routine during the summer prepares them to learn in the coming school year. June is National Dairy Month, a great time to remember that dairy foods, such as milk, should be front and center in your family’s eating plan now, and year-round.
Here are three summer strategies to keep kids on track:
Have a food and fitness challenge. Children, and many adults, need at least the following every day:
• 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, such as 1 cup of cooked vegetables, 1 cup berries, or a piece of fruit
• 4, 8-ounce glasses of water
• 3 servings of low-fat dairy, such as 8 ounces of milk or yogurt
• 2 or fewer hours of screen time, which includes tablets, TVs, phones, and video games
• 1 hour of physical activity, at least (this doesn’t have take place all at once)
Make a chart of these food and fitness goals next to the names of family members. Post the chart and have your kids check off what they’ve achieved every day.
Limit sugary drinks. It’s easier to include the water and milk you need every day when you don’t go overboard on lemonade, soda, and other soft drinks, which supply calories but few, if any, nutrients.
Save sugary drinks for special occasions, and don’t stock the kitchen with them. Encourage kids to sip flavored low-fat milk when they get an urge for a sweet drink, or have them whip up these smoothies to include the dairy foods, fruit, and vegetables they need.
Let them dip. Dunking cut up fruits and vegetables in dip helps to increase produce consumption. Mix plain fat-free Greek yogurt with a bit of honey and serve with ripe pear or peach wedges. Enjoy fresh vegetables with this simple and delicious dip, and serve up slimmer guacamole for an easy treat.