Posted by admin | Posted in eating healthy | Posted on 13-06-2012-05-2008
Summertime — and the living is easy. But getting your kids to stay on a nutritious diet is a different issue completely.
“During the school year, kids are seeing those fruits and vegetables,” said Kristi Murphy, a dietitian and supervisor of the Child Nutrition Department with the Abilene Independent School District. “It’s important for kids to continue eating fruits and vegetables during the summer.”
Late hours and easier access to junk food can derail parents’ efforts to keep their child on healthy eating habits, but Murphy said involving children in the selection of fruits and vegetables could help them eat healthier during the summer.
“One thing you can do is take your child with you to the grocery store and let them help select the fruits and vegetables,” she said. “You can get them to try new things.”
Murphy said people might be surprised at what children may be willing to try and might eat after they eat it a few times.
“When we first started serving sugar snap peas, some of the kids asked, ‘What are these?’ ” she said. “Now they take them. the same with kiwi fruit and whole pears. a lot of the kids weren’t used to seeing whole fruit. a lot of people have the perception that kids don’t want to try anything new, but a lot of times they want to try new foods.”
Murphy said a good way to serve fruits and vegetables is in smoothies. Fruit can cover the taste of some of the vegetables without getting rid of any of the nutrients, she said.
“You can add spinach to a smoothie and the kids will think it’s kind of cool,” Murphy said. “It makes it a Green Monster.”
It was just as important to avoid excessive amounts of some foods, such as fried food and fast food, which may be more accessible in the summer than during the school year, she added.
Murphy said it is important to keep juice, water and low-fat milk on hand for kids rather than sugary drinks. However, she is not among the critics of flavored milks.
“I know there are some people who don’t like the flavored milks because of the sugar, but I think the nutritious benefits of them outweigh the sugar,” she said.
AISD is sponsoring a summer program that provides breakfasts and lunches at 15 locations throughout the city from June 4 to Aug. 10. the meals are available to any child 18 and younger at no cost. However, even if a family doesn’t take advantage of the service, the menus can provide parents with some good ideas about feeding their kids during the summer.
For instance, an easy summer breakfast is peanut butter and jelly between graham crackers and served with milk or juice. String cheese and milk can be a good snack as well as a healthy alternative to chips.
In addition to keeping the kids on a healthy diet, Murphy also recommended physical activity.
“It doesn’t have to be structured exercise,” she said. “Just playing is good. Get them away from the video games and out of the house for a while. Eating and exercise go hand in hand.”