After a school year of schedules coordinated to every minute, it’s a relief to cut loose and relax during summer vacation. However, it’s all too easy to slip into lazy eating habits and toss the routine of meals and snacks out the window — and kids, especially, need regular meals and snacks to support their growth and wellness. It takes just a little planning (and some work) to keep the whole family on a healthy eating track — even during the summer. To keep everyone on a healthy diet, consider these simple strategies.
Make it easy for your littles and bigs to grab a quick, healthy breakfast, such as smoothies your kids can make themselves or a bulk batch of pancakes, waffles, or crepes they can warm up in the microwave or toaster. Keep a bowl of fruit handy for a grab-and-go breakfast.
Stock Healthy Snack Options
Every parent knows that the chances are good that their little people will plan for snack time even while they’re still finishing up lunch or dinner. Schedule those snack times and add plenty of protein, nuts, low-fat cheese sticks, and bite-sized fruits and raw vegetables. Occasional chips or crackers are fine, but stock the fridge with fruits, vegetables, cheese, and yogurt — at eye-level for the kiddos — as a healthier alternative.
The Power of Protein
It’s essential to get enough protein, and you can find it in many places. Well-seasoned lean turkey burgers, for example, taste as amazing as fattier ground beef patties. Fat-free egg whites are all lean protein and very low-cal. Greek yogurt also has more protein than traditional styles. And edamame makes a great, protein-filled snack.
Hydrate regularly with water or tea in place of soda or calorie-laden fruit drinks. Now, if your people like grapefruit juice, drink it guilt-free; eight ounces of 100 percent grapefruit juice is chock-full of vitamins A and C. Check out these recipes for healthier alternatives.
Recipes for Even the Pickiest Eater
Whether you’ve got a budding gourmand on your hands or a child who’d happily eat chicken nuggets for every snack and meal, you’re sure to find something for everyone with these recipes that include no-cook family meals, lunch ideas, healthy snacks, camping recipes, and more.
Healthful Eating and Your Mental Health
It should come as no surprise to learn that how and what we eat and drink to handle our stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all contribute to the state of our mental health. If you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, you’ll keep your blood sugar and energy levels from soaring and crashing — and that leads to more positive moods and clear thinking.
Your gastrointestinal tract produces about 95 percent of your body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate appetite and sleep, manage pain, and control moods. Healthier digestive systems don’t just process food; they also influence your emotions. Experts say that eating a diet that eliminates or dramatically restricts processed foods and sugar improves how many people feel not just physically, but mentally, too. Here’s a list of foods that are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all of which can help you eat with mental health in mind.
Nutrition for Seniors
It’s especially important to encourage the seniors in your family to eat well, as their eating habits may change in their golden years. Their senses of smell, taste, and vision may lessen over time, resulting in a decreased appetite and increased tendency to reach for unhealthy foods like sweets. You can steer toward healthier eating by cooking them colorful meals that contain natural, aromatic flavors, such as spices and citrus. If you feel your senior family members still lack in nutrition, you can refer them to a nutritionist. Look to their Medicare Advantage plans to see if they cover nutrition therapy. If your senior family members don’t have Medicare Advantage, various insurance companies offer plans that include valuable benefits for many areas of health, such as vision and dental.
Eating well isn’t something you reserve for certain times of the year — it should be part of a healthy lifestyle. And if you invite and teach your family to learn and care about the foods they eat and help them to make better food choices, you’ll set them up for eating well in the long run. Need more ideas? Check out Choose My Plate, which provides the perfect graphics to illustrate the best building blocks for creating the perfect plate of healthy food choices.
Photo Credit: Pexels.com
This is a guest article by Gabriel Patel of Healthwise.com