How much watermelon have you eaten so far this summer? I’ve eaten, like… a ton. I think I could live off it, but probably not. You know, when it’s so hot and your kiddo is outside playing, swimming and soaking up the sun, there are a few sneaky ways you can take advantage of the heat to get your child to eat healthy.
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Watermelon and popsicles are summer must-haves because we’re dehydrated and melting! What doesn’t sound good though, is dry crackers, hot soup, or anything heavy. It’s the same for your child, so use this time to get his eating habits back on track.
Think about it… from October through April, there is one holiday after another begging your family to eat treats! It’s nearly impossible to get your child to eat healthy, when all the fall and winter holidays have food expectations attached to them. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years… chocolate, pie, candy.
After Easter, there is a tiny window of nutrition opportunity between May and September. There are no hard and fast rules about treats on Memorial day, Independence Day or Labor Day. And actually, I’ve got some ideas to help you set some new dietary standards that you can carry with you into the fall, so things don’t get completely coo-coo bananas with sugar!
Spend this summer, making these easy changes so that they become the new norm. You can do it subtly, so your little one doesn’t know any different. If you’re able to accomplish that, when the fall comes back around, good habits will already be the norm. Read more about how important your child’s nutrition is here.
5 Summer Eating Habits To Get Your Child To Eat Healthy
#1. Drinking more water.
You child is already thirsty. Like, really really thirsty from being outside. This is the time to say, “It’s water or nothing.” Get him a super cute water bottle like this, to keep his water ice cold and keep it filled up all day long, so as he comes and goes from playing outside, it’ll be ready for him.
You can still let him have juice or milk at meal times, if you so choose, however I notice for my family, it’s just easier and keeps the expectation clear for everyone, if the rule is water only, except on treat day.
#2. Eat more fruit.
Some people are fruit eaters and some people are crazy. Just kidding… kind of. I love fruit. And I’ve found that most people who don’t eat a lot of fruit, DO like it, they just don’t make as much effort to eat it as others. Your child likely has a few fruits that he really enjoys. Keep these things on hand this summer and let those things be his go to snacks instead of fruit snacks, crackers, and chips.
Fruit is appealing because it’s loaded with water and your child is feeling parched as he’s playing in the sun. Fruit is the answer. Try freezing grapes and blueberries, for frozen snack treats your child will love.
#3. Make homemade popsicles.
Homemade popsicles are so easy and can be super nutritious. Try a recipe like this one. Because of the nutritious nature of these yummy popsicles, your child can have one everyday, and more than once a day. So get some of these popsicles molds and make a bunch to keep on hand.
This gives your child the cold treat his body is desperately craving, helps keep him hydrated, provides nutrition and he thinks he’s getting a “treat!” Win-Win!
#4. Make homemade Ice Cream.
Homemade ice cream is CRAZY EASY to make. My very favorite method is to use an ice cream maker like this one with a recipe like this, but you can make it with just a blender as well, like this recipe does. Look at the ingredients in homemade ice cream. There isn’t anything in there you wouldn’t want to give your child on a daily basis. So when it comes time for a treat… you can feel great about the nutrition he is getting. It’ll feel like a treat to him and like a great parenting decision for you.
#5. Use the grill!
Grilling food is one of the most nutritious forms of cooking. Add to that the fact that kids like things pretty simple and it’s easy to come up with nutritious, no-fuss dinners every night. Breads, pasta, potatoes and other starches are processed by our bodies in a very similar way to sugar.
Plus, because that stuff is heavy, we find ourselves craving less of it in the scorching-hot summer months. Use this time to grill lots of beef or chicken and pair it with your child’s vegetable of choice. Don’t sweat it if cauliflower is the only vegetable he’ll eat. You can work on more vegetables another time. Right now, just feed him more of what he likes.
A Few Bonus Tips On Nutrition.
- You buy the food. Don’t want your child eating processed junk or goldfish crackers 24/7?… Don’t buy it.
- Your child will not willingly starve himself. Offer him nutritious foods only. If he doesn’t eat it, he’s not that hungry.
- You set the example. Your family has standards. Whatever they are, they apply to the whole family. If you are passionate about organic dairy, then your family eats organic dairy. If you are anti-potato (this is me, we only eat then a couple times a month), then your whole family is anti-potato. If you decide you don’t want any processed sugars, then don’t buy it, and no one will get processed sweeteners.
- Your kids will have their own families, living life independent from you some day. Right now, they are in your care and what you say goes. It’s alright to expect them to be part of a team and eat what the team eats.
The goal is to establish enough good habits that your child has some really great standards to carry with them into his adult life so he’ll be equipped to make great choices on his own someday. For more nutrition resources, see the resource library here.
Your whole family should drink more water, eat more fruit, make things homemade, and use the grill this summer. These are things you are doing more of already anyway, but by being intentional about it and understanding the “why” you can really make a positive impact on your child’s eating habits this summer!