Healthy kids for summer

Incorporate physical activity and nutrition into your kids summer break.

Having kids home from school is one of the highlights for families during the summer months. The break from the school routine leaves times for lots of fun summer-time activities. In many households, this extra time can sometimes lead to too much snacking and watching TV, along with hearing the phrase “I’m bored,” from your children. Take time this summer to plan activities that include physical activity and use opportunities to add some tips about healthy eating. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you utilize ideas, such as those below to get your family moving and thinking about good nutrition:

  • Visit the local farmers market. Many markets have designated kid’s days but even if not, use the market as a place to explore locally grown produce and items. Let your kids choose a new fruit or vegetable to try or pick a family favorite and have the kids help with meal planning.
  • Grocery shopping with kids. Since the kids are home all summer, chances are they will be heading to the grocery store with you at some point. Use the store as a classroom and take the shopping trip to talk about filling the cart with foods from all five food groups on MyPlate, talk about menu planning and healthy snacks. Allow kids to be actively involved before you go to the store by helping write out the grocery list; encourage them to make many nutritious food choices.
  • Work in the garden. Gardening is a great activity and think of all the interesting things you can teach the kids while doing so. Talk about the different kinds of plants, the growing and harvesting process, MyPlate and healthy eating. Play games trying to determine if produce is a fruit or vegetable and how you might prepare it for mealtime.
  • Get outside and do anything active – walking, biking, swimming, jumping rope, rollerblading, to name just a few ideas.
  • Contact local parks and recreations departments or your local library to find out what opportunities are available. Visit local festivals and fairs around your community and experience what they have to offer.
  • Sign up for a 5K walk/run in a local community. You can be physically active while supporting a charity or community organization.
  • Encourage lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at mealtime and snacks. Nothing tastes better than enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables grown in your garden or from a local farm market. Plus you will be filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables like MyPlate recommends.
  • If you live in an agricultural area and are watching crops grow in the fields around you, talk with kids about what happens to the crops as they grow and are harvested. This summer there happens to be a lot of wheat fields near our home and my two young children are both talking about how the combined wheat goes to the elevator and then they make cereal, bread and crackers from the wheat for us to eat.

Summer is a great time to spend extra family time together. Try to include lots of family physical activities and always take opportunities to teach about healthy eating.

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