Summer vacation is officially upon us. Where children are usually excited for summer as it gives them a break from their regular school routine, it can also lead to boredom as they look for something to do to fill the time. Some may turn to the refrigerator and eat out of boredom, while others may become glued to their video games. With 12.7 million of our nation's youth between the ages of 2-19 obese, how can we make this a fun and healthy summer for our youth?
"Set a goal!" said Alyssa Davis, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital Clinical Dietitian. "I love to direct families to the 5210 Campaign. This is a campaign that encourages kids and their families to consume five servings of fruits and veggies per day, limit recreational screen time to two hours per day, get one hour of physical activity per day and aim to drink zero sugar-sweetened beverages per day. Youth will be more likely to work towards these goals when the whole family is involved."
The road to your child eating healthier foods can be a bumpy one, but sometimes a little creativity can make all the difference. "Research suggests that kids who garden are much more likely to try new produce that they've grown themselves," said Davis. "Other research indicates that kids who garden alongside their families will grow up to be adults who eat more fruits and veggies than their peers. If you don't have a yard, try a container-garden with just a couple of potted plants."
Along with eating healthy foods, physical activity is just as important when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. "Play outside," said Davis. "Replace screen time with active time. Get out doors some if you can, nothing beats a water balloon fight or a game of back yard baseball during the summer."
Need more ideas to get your family through the summer days? "For whatever you're needing whether it be recipe ideas, healthy activities for the kiddos or just fun ways to incorporate exercise, there's a resource for you," said Davis. "Take a look at ChooseMyPlate.gov, EatRight.org and Mindful.Sodexo.com, all of these will provide a wealth of information appropriate for all ages."