Tried and true tips for teaching kids healthy eating habits
Just as the temperatures rise, so does activity level, as many of us take to the outdoors to enjoy the warm weather.
School is out, vacations are looming, and parents are signing kids up for summer sports and summer camps.
Schedules change, meals may be consumed earlier or later than during the rest of the year, and the drive-through or ice cream truck are often quick choices for dinner or snacks.
How to make sure kids, eager to get to the pool or ball field, perhaps uninterested in pausing to eat or drink, stay healthy over the summer?
"Water is the number one thing during the summer. You should consume half of your body weight in ounces of water per day," says Dr. Keith Kantor, nutritionist and CEO and founder of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking program.
A child weighing 60 pounds, he says, should down 30 ounces of water a day.
He's not opposed to adding flavor, especially from citrus slices children can drop into their water.
"Let kids do it - let them take ownership of it," Kantor says.
Kantor holds a Ph.D. in nutritional science and a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, according to his website.
His published books include " The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice," an adventure book for children that includes a cookbook, an exercise guide and addresses making the best choices for one's health.
"It teaches children that eating right is good for you, that it makes you healthy," he says.
"The biggest addiction in America is sugar. Stay away from sugar," Kantor adds.
Easier said than done when sugar can be found in the cookies, candy and sweetened drinks we pack in our kids' lunches and the cupcakes and frozen treats often provided as snacks at camps, sporting events and birthday parties.
The American Heart Association also recommends limiting added sugars and, for kids, keeping that number to six teaspoons a day.
Helping kids make healthy choices
Anyone who's ever taken a child grocery shopping, or handed a child a restaurant menu, knows kids like to make their own choices.
And parents can help present those types of choices, Kantor says.
Are sugary drinks a problem in your household?
Add some watermelon or cucumber, any fruits or vegetables they like, Kantor suggests.
Smoothies, packed with "kids' choice" fruits and vegetables, protein powder if desired, and some ice to make them frothy are good morning options, he says.
What kid doesn't like that portable camp favorite, gorp (good old raisins and peanuts)? Homemade trail mix, Kantor says, is not a bad snack.
"You can use all different types of nuts, dried berries, raisins, and a little 70 percent dark chocolate," he says.
Trying to sneak in a little fiber and protein?
Introduce your kids to another camp favorite, ants on a log - slices of celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins, Kantor says.
Firing up the grill?
Help kids put chicken and vegetables on a skewer. It's fun finger food and, again, lets them make some of their own choices, he says.
Older children can go grocery shopping, help out in a garden and enjoy exercise as fun, all while learning what is good and what is not so good, Kantor says.
A few final nutritional mantras from Kantor:
"Get food as 'natural' as you can."
"Read the ingredients."
"Everything in moderation."
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaryPickels.