Back to school is here and families are constantly on the go to work, school, sports, music, and other club activities. Sometimes, kids go from lunch time to their activities to dinner without any snack. That’s 5-6 hours! They need a nutritious snack to refuel for their next activity (adults do too).
So, I’ve put together my favorite ideas and healthier tips for the rest of summer, back to school, or anytime.
1. Plan ahead. Don’t just “wing it”: Take a few minutes to plan your meals and snacks for the day or week. This will help you make healthier choices and avoid impulsive decisions when you're busy or surrounded by tempting options.
2. Pack nutritious snacks: These will help you curb hunger and prevent you from reaching for unhealthy options when hunger strikes. Carry portable and nutrient-rich snacks with you, such as:
“Slider-sized” (mini) sandwiches (this includes good ol’ peanut butter and jelly)
3. Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential, especially in the summer heat. Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, and make sure to drink water regularly to stay hydrated. If you find plain water boring, infuse it with fruits or herbs for a refreshing flavor. How much water do you need? Here ‘s the formula: Half your body weight in ounces.
4. Limit sugary drinks: It’s easy to be tempted with sugary beverages like sodas, juices, energy drinks, and sweetened iced teas. Of these, only juice provides a little nutrition. The others provide none. Opt for healthier alternatives, try infused water, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice.
5. Choose lighter meals: Opt for lighter, refreshing meals during the summer.
Focus on salads with lean proteins like grilled chicken or fish.
Include plenty of colorful vegetables and even berries.
Think “seasonal” and incorporate seasonal produce into your meals for added flavor and nutrients.
6. Be mindful of portion sizes: When eating out or grabbing meals on the go, be mindful of portion sizes. Restaurants and fast-food establishments often serve larger portions, so consider sharing a meal or packing half of it for later. Avoid supersized or extra-large options.
7. Make smart choices at restaurants: When dining out, look for healthier options on the menu, such as:
Grilled or roasted dishes (vs. fried), salads, and sauteed or steamed vegetables.
Ask for dressings and sauces on the side to control the amount you consume.
Be aware of hidden calories in sauces, dressings, fried items, or sugary beverages.
Families these days are always on-the-go no matter where you live or what season of the year it is. Keeping these handy snack and meal ideas top-of-mind are good all year!