Eat for the heat

Eat for the heat

Photography by Micahel Alberstat Image by: Photography by Micahel Alberstat Author: Canadian Living


Eat for the heat

Hot summer days call for new mealtime strategies when feeding busy kids. “Appetites change with the weather. No one feels like eating in the heat, which makes choosing nutrient-dense foods even more important,” says Toronto-based nutritionist Theresa Albert. Children require energy to stay fuelled during activities such as hiking, softball and swimming. Nourish and hydrate your kids this summer with these seven strategies.

1. Offer nutrition reminders
“Our kids tell me when they’re hungry and remember to hydrate, but when they’re caught up playing, they can use a little reminder,” says Vancouver mom Melissa Bruntlett, who blogs about her family’s bike-centric lifestyle at Velo Family Diaries. “We spend summer on our bikes, with trips almost daily,” says Bruntlett. To keep her eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son energized, she reminds them to nosh on their fave fruits: berries for her and apples for him. “We also pack items that are easy to munch on during breaks, like trail mix,” she says.

2. Pump up the H2O

The best choice for summer sipping, water offers maximum hydration and contains no sugar, caffeine or additives. Albert recommends one eight-ounce cup of water for every hour of vigorous activity. (To change things up, coconut water is a better choice than fruit juice, but limit consumption to one cup per day, she says.) Your kids can also take cues from camp employees, who encourage hydration before, after and during activities, says Ronald Tenthorey, food service director at YMCA Camp Wanakita in Haliburton, ON. Staff members also lead by example, refilling their own water bottles at Wanakita’s many ice water stations, says Tenthorey.

3. Hide hydration
The high water content of many fruits (and veggies like cucumber, lettuce and celery) contributes to hydration. “Cut back on fillers like cookies and bump up consumption of water-filled fruit,” says Albert. “Watermelon, grapes and other in-season fruits are the way to go.” Offer fresh fruits and veggies in a variety of forms: whole, sliced, frozen or blended into a smoothie.

4. Make time for downtime
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, children should eat every 2.5 hours. If your kids are enrolled in an organized program, nutrition breaks will be incorporated. If they’re at home, schedule a sit-down lunch and snacks to be enjoyed in the shade or an air-conditioned room. Quiet meal breaks will help them cool down while promoting mindful eating.

5. Make healthful snacks fun
Let your kids cool off with DIY freezer pops—they’ll love whipping up these healthful treats. Purée melons, grapes, berries and citrus fruits, then freeze them in ice pop moulds. If your kids prefer a creamier ice pop, add milk, coconut milk or yogurt. For kids who are old enough to eat whole grapes, frozen melon balls, banana chunks and grapes can be served on stir sticks as another healthful snack.

6. Mix and match 
food groups
Active kids need to eat more foods, especially those that are wholesome. Complementary foods make winning snack combinations: whole grain raisin pitas and melon slices; baby carrots, multigrain crackers and cheese; or grapes and a frozen yogurt tube.

7. Provide healthier snack choices
“There’s always a fruit bowl, toast station, 100-percent juice machine and cereal bar available at our self-serve kitchen,” says Tenthorey. Wanakita campers can also request yogurt, pudding, unsweetened applesauce, cereal and milk. Stock your pantry and fridge with expert-approved choices so that your kids can help themselves to smarter snacks.

Check out these 10 healthy snacks that kids can make themselves.
This story was originally titled "Eat For The Heat" in the August 2014 issue.
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Eat for the heat