Planning a Healthy Summer

The long, lazy, hot days of summer are here, and many parents are looking for activities to involve their kids in to occupy their time during the summer break.

One thing that children get lots of during the summer, and maybe even too much of, is idle time.  During the summer break, many children spend hours watching television taking breaks only to use the bathroom and eat.  This combination of inactivity and eating can lead to children packing on the pounds during the break.  So, this week I would like to talk about some things parents may want to limit this summer.

  1. Reduce sedentary time.  While we were growing up, the most screen we had was a television and for many of us, we did not have that.  However, this generation is surrounded by screens.  For example, television, computers. Laptop, hand-held electronic games, kindles, cellphones and the list goes on.  It is extremely easy for a child to spend an entire day locked away from other people focusing on a moving object on a screen.  This not only increases sedentary behavior, but it also teaches the child anti-social behaviors.
  2. Increase physical activity.  It is important that parents look for summer events that include lots of activities and/or outdoor play.  There are a number of summer camps happening and many of them include physical activity.  Nutrition in Demand is hosting a fitness and nutrition camp that will involve children in outdoor activities as well as teach them how to make better food choices.  This camp happens July 21st – July 25th at Edward Gartland Youth Center.
  3. Make healthy foods available.  Many parents feel like children are supposed to have junk foods, but not so.  I believe children are taught what foods to eat and like.  So, during this summer break, ensure that they have lots of fruits and vegetables to eat.  Make sure it is in their reach and in their sight—put it in a bowl on a table they have to pass.  If your child doesn’t usually eat vegetables, you may want to start with the more child friendly veggies like carrots, corn & broccoli.  Once they are comfortable with these, you can become a bit more adventurous.

Children usually and naturally have growth spurts during the summer break, but as parents, let us do our part to not encourage the wrong kind of growth.