With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s down to parents to educate their kids on sensible eating. But when it’s the summer holidays, it’s all too easy to have high calorie, quick-access snacks for the kids and their friends to grab.
You may have diligently included fruit, yoghurt, healthy grain bread and other goodies in their lunchboxes all year long, but now it’s the summer, fizzy drinks, ice cream and crisps suddenly have the edge.
You’re not going to be giving them lunchboxes during the holidays or banning them from the kitchen, so how do you encourage them to eat healthily – and still enjoy it?
A healthy start
Make the summer break the time to explore different breakfast options.
Instead of sugar-loaded cereal, visit your local health-food shop and make your own muesli
with jumbo oats, seeds, chopped nuts (you can buy them already chopped) and maybe
desiccated coconut and a small amount of chopped dried fruit – like apricots and prunes or
A bowl of muesli soaked with an egg cupful of orange juice to, ideally overnight, but at least for a few minutes, plus a handful of blueberries and a dollop of their favourite low-fat yoghurt makes a healthy breakfast that will keep them going until lunchtime.
Carbs at breakfast are good, but only when there’s some exercise of some kind afterwards to burn them off!
If you have time, try dry-fried bacon with half a boiled egg on each slice. A healthier option than a fried egg and if you’re not great at poaching eggs it’s a good alternative.
Summer snack hacks
Cut up lots of vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower florets, different coloured sweet peppers, even parsnips and button mushrooms – and leave them ready in plastic bags. Kids are known for going for anything that doesn’t require effort!!!
Make yoghurt-based dips (like tzatziki) and there are lots of different flavoured hummus options, to go with your veggie feast.
Keep the fruit bowl stacked with apples, pears, peaches, bananas, plums – anything that’s easy to grab and munch.
Leave little snack-sized bags of blueberries and strawberries ready in the fridge and cherry tomatoes are often popular for easy snacks – they’re sweet and tasty.
Don’t buy crisps and nachos – except maybe for a once a week treat.
Put crackers and seeded biscuits in the biscuit tin, instead of sugary sweet biscuits.
Summer lunch hacks
If sandwiches are the order of the day, make sure there is plenty of healthy stuff to fill them up. Chicken, tuna and eggs are all healthy choices.
If you cook a chicken slice all the meat and pack in sandwich-sized bags. These can be frozen, as long as you remember to defrost them so there are supplies when lunchtime comes around.
Spread low-fat mayo on the bread instead of butter. Have crisp lettuce leaves ready to add some crunch.
Make a big bowl of colourful salad – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, other vegetables, small cubes of Edam or flakes of Parmesan. Add apples dipped in lemon juice (to stop them going brown) and offer only a low-fat dressing (tip throw everything in a mixing bowl and use a spatula to mix it all up).
Have a rainbow chart on the fridge and encourage the whole family to eat foods from each colour daily.
Have a 5-a-day competition in the family and see who can do the longest streak.
Encourage everyone to do something that involved exercise at least once a week – sport, dance class, martial arts, playing tag in the park.
Have a device-free period every day – no mobile phones, tablets, computers, digital games or TV. Make it at least a couple of hours and encourage them to discuss what they’ll do during their two hours.