If your summer is looking anything like mine, it’s filled with ice cream trucks, pizza nights, and treats at grandma’s house/the pool/the beach.My sneaky kids have gone so far as to befriend all the regulars on our beach who come with bags packed with Oreos. They then make their best puppy dog eyes and say, "I've never had an Oreo before." Works every weekend. Healthy summertime eating can sometimes feel like a lost cause. But these quick strategies steer 'em back on track and are so easy to implement. Follow them to make your whole family healthier right away.
1. Ask your child to wash a vegetable. Pull a step stool up to your sink, and give your child the “job” of rinsing off the vegetable that you’re serving. While a common goal for parents is to get their kids to actually eat more vegetables, all types of exposures count--even holding a veggie in their hand. Kids are natural explorers, so letting them grab hold of a veggie exposes their senses to something new in a completely non-intimidating way.
2. Eat dinner under your kitchen table. Or have your kids pick any place you can spread a picnic blanket: over the sandbox, atop their playground—anything works. Remember, this strategy isn’t for pizza night—serve something healthier that you want them to try. Changing up the location makes dinnertime less of chore for children than having to sit at the table, which translates into more of a chance that they’ll eat what’s in front of them.
3. Replace one of your go-to snacks with something homemade. 99 out of 100 times, the snacks you make yourself are healthier than anything you buy in a package. Instead of a store-brought granola bar, make these sweet spinach muffins or healthier blueberry muffins. Compared to packaged stuff, homemade snacks contain way fewer ingredients, an ingredient list you can pronounce, and no preservatives or artificial anything. That’s always a step in the right direction.
4. Put out a veggie tray after camp after the park. Add a mix of chopped veggies, like baby carrots, cucumbers, celery, pepper slices and a dip like hummus or ranch dressing. When kids are starving, they eat what’s in front of them. We do this about 30 minutes before dinnertime, and it works every time.
5. Count colors. Hang six pieces of construction paper on a wall or your door in these colors: green, orange, red, blue, yellow, purple. Tell your kids that your goal for the day is to eat as many of these colors as they can—whoever gets the most colors at the end of the week wins. And no, rainbow sprinkles don’t count :)