Healthy meal for your familyEating s’mores by the campfire, enjoying a hot dog at a cookout…just a few of the things that make summer so great. But this summer isn’t just any normal summer. It’s the summer of 2012 and 1 in 3 American children are considered obese.

So this is the summer where Americans change their mindset and replace junk food-filled lazy days with healthy food choices and fun family activities that burn calories and get our families in shape!

So where to begin?

Start by making simple healthy changes to your family’s favorite summer food:


Strawberry Lemonade Smoothee: 

Lemonade is traditionally known as a summer favorite amongst kids, but it’s also chocked full of sugar. Get rid of the extra calories, add some extra nutritional factors, and create a drink that the whole family will enjoy! Try out this Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie:
– ¼ cup of plain low fat yogurt
– ½ cup chopped fresh strawberries
– Lemon juice from one lemon
Blend and enjoy!

Fruit Pizza
Summer is the best season to enjoy a big cup of fruit, although your child may see it differently. Give fruit an appealing touch by creating a fruit pizza!
– Create a pizza crust
– Combine reduced fat or fat free cream cheese with a tablespoon of honey and a shake of cinnamon
– Allow the pizza crust to cool and cover with the cream cheese mix
– Layer sliced fruit over the cream cheese and dig in!

Healthy ice cream substitute:
Ice cream is another summer favorite that can really pack on the pounds. Sure, there’s reduced fat ice and fat-free ice cream, but many of those contain artificial sweeteners or other potentially harmful ingredients. So, instead of indulging in a bowl of rocky road, give your child a cup of sorbet or gelato. The sweet fruity taste is a sure way for your child to satisfy that craving but avoid the high amount of calories, fat, and sugar found in normal ice cream.

S’mores with grilled bananas and dark chocolate:
It’s true… s’mores are one of the best tasting indulgent summer treats. And yes, they’re fairly small so having one isn’t the worst thing your child could eat. But who can have just one? Try substituting grilled bananas for those gooey processed marshmallows. Or, if your child really enjoys roasting their marshmallow, use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. By making these simple changes, your child will barely notice a difference in taste and you can feel better if they ask for seconds.

Mix it up! Try unique forms of physical activity to get your child motivated!

Summer is the best time to enjoy physical activity, although suggesting a bike ride may not always be effective in peeling your child away from their electronic devices. Change it up by enjoying unique family activities that every child is sure to love!

Letterboxing
This is a great way to add some excitement to a family hike. What’s letterboxing you ask? It’s a worldwide phenomenon that started with hikers leaving stamped boxes on various trails throughout the US, then providing maps for other hikers to find the boxes. No, you won’t find any sort of treasure in the box, but the excitement is in the hunt! Check out letterboxing.org (http://www.letterboxing.org/) to see if there’s any boxes near you!

Manual Boating
Sure, swimming’s great but it can get old after a while. Change it up by purchasing a blow up raft for the family! There’s 2 seaters, 4 seaters, even 6 seaters, and they can be found at places like walmart (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sevylor-Specialists-4-Person-Inflatable-Boat/10928135) for a very reasonable price. Catch some sun and enjoy the activity by rowing around the lake with the family!

Summer Activity Chart
One of the best ways to make physical activity fun: add some competition! Turn normal activities into competitions by adding rules and goals. Get the whole family in on it and record the activity winners on a summer fun chart. Award the winners weekly as a way to keep your child motivated for some outdoor fun!

Change your summer routine! Make 2012 the year of fitness and fun for the entire family, and be sure that your child starts the next school year off with a healthy mindset!

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Weight?

At Pediatric Center of Round Rock, we provide support for families who are a trying to manage their weight. Call us to make an appointment to discuss our weight management program.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.