Healthy Kids YMCA Child Care

4 fail-proof ways to curb the “summer slide” with kids’ eating

Young girl pouring milk from a pitcher into a glass measuring cup containing banana and strawberry slices

Barbeques, sporting events, trips to the amusement park, and many other beloved summertime activities tend to revolve around food — and, often, the eats up for grabs are more delicious than nutritious. With all of those tempting seasonal treats now in abundance, it’s safe to say that eating healthy is a challenge for everyone this time of year.

One study examining the body mass index (BMI) of 10,000 Canadian, American, and Japanese children discovered a trend of accelerated weight gain during the summer break. Although researchers did not investigate potential causes, a steady diet of sugary snacks combined with increased “screen time” is likely to blame.

School may be out, but your child’s healthy eating doesn’t have to take a vacation, too. Here’s how you can help them make healthier choices this summer:

1. Stay hydrated 

In hot weather, we tend to lose more body water through sweating, so it’s important for kids to drink water often to replace the fluid that’s been lost. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Tossing in fresh fruits into their water for taste or using silly straws and special cups to create some eye appeal can get kids to put down the soda.

2. Get active 

Taking regular trips to the park as a family or enrolling your child in a recreational sports program over the summer are simple but effective ways to get them unplug from technology. Another surefire way to get your kid moving and develop their physical literacy is with YMCA Summer Clubs. From creative group games that teach teamwork skills to afternoons spent frolicking at a local splash pad, Summer Club programs offer kids a wide range of fun physical activities tailored to their interests.

3. Plan meals when possible 

While summer is a time for a more relaxed schedule, things like eating wisely should remain constant. Sticking to a daily mealtime routines as much as possible to can prevent kids from snacking throughout the day when their normal schedule has been upset by summer activities.

5. Allow treats (on occasion) 

Think forbidding your child to eat certain foods is the trick to keeping them on a strict diet of healthy eating this summer? Think again. Research shows that kids find forbidden foods more desirable and are more likely to binge eat when they have access to them. Instead of banning less nutritious foods, consider them to be “sometimes” foods that you allow your kids to munch on every so often.