7 healthy habits to start with the kids this summerSlideshow
Drink more water
Not only is water the healthiest beverage choice, it’s essential to prevent dehydration. But don’t expect kids to quaff it if you don’t.
“Be a role model and drink water yourself,” says registered dietitian Michelle Archer of Eatwell Nutrition Consulting in Regina, SK. “Add lemon slices, or freeze whole strawberries and use them as ‘berry cubes’ to keep your water cool,” she says.
Choose water bottles your kids won’t mind toting to the park or beach. Having them handy means you’ll be less tempted to buy bottled water or sugary drinks, says Archer.
Use the one-kilometre rule
Use the longer daylight hours to add more walking and biking to your summer routine.
“For short trips of less than one kilometre, think twice before jumping in the car,” says Jennifer Cowie Bonne, the CEO of Active Healthy Kids Canada, a national charitable organization dedicated to increasing kids’ physical activity.
Walk or take your bike, she suggests. “When running errands where the car is unavoidable, consider parking in a central location and going on foot for at least part of the way,” Bonne says.
Serve more veggies
To encourage kids to eat more fruits and colourful veggies, make them available in the kitchen, says Archer. Change up how you offer them, too. “If you want to encourage your family to eat tomatoes, offer them in a variety of ways such as slices, whole or halved grape tomatoes as a part of a barbecued veggie skewer, or tomato bruschetta,” she says. “You never know which form will be a hit!”
Fuel up with a good breakfast
Outdoor day camps and sports camps require lots of energy. Make sure kids get a great start to the day with a well-balanced morning meal by following Canada’s Food Guide, says Archer.
A large breakfast will curb hunger and also dissuade kids from reaching for sugary snacks, too. But if your kid is not a big breakfast eater, don’t sweat it. So long as they have a chance to have a healthy snack mid-morning (and they actually eat it), they don’t have to eat a big breakfast, Archer says.
Keep active indoors too
Bad weather happens, and part of starting healthy habits includes keeping active, to the tune of 60 minutes per day, no matter the conditions outdoors.
“On rainy days create an environment at home that helps foster imagination and spontaneity, with access to items to build a fort, a costume trunk and music rather than turning on the TV or handing over your mobile or tablet,” says Bonne.
Pack a lunch
It’s so easy and tempting to reach for salty, greasy, sugary, crunchy packaged goods when we’re out with the kids at parks, at the beach and on car trips. Instead of spending money on unhealthy snacks, invest in a cooler.
“View summertime as your opportunity to pack healthier options in a cooler (along with a water cooler with ice to refill those water bottles) so that you can balance good nutrition with the less healthy offerings available,” says Archer.
Start one regular family physical activity
Organized activities are great for kids, but the whole family will benefit from a dedicated activity to do together.
“While organized camps and programs can provide kids with an opportunity to meet friends and learn important skills, these programs are only part of the solution to getting kids more active,” says Bonne.
A family exercise can be an important component to getting active and fit, be it a family walk or hike, bike ride or pick-up soccer game. Aim to do to one thing every week, or better yet, every day.