With so much attention on preventing both eating disorders and obesity in our teens, summer vacation means more than just a break from school. For many parents, it also means there are teens home alone all day with no one minding the kitchen. This summer, help your teen eat healthy even when they are home alone with these 7 secrets to healthy summer snacking.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the most common reasons that our homes end up packed with unhealthy snacks or with no snacks at all is because we don’t plan for snacks like we do for meals. Help your teen eat healthier this summer by incorporating snack planning into your normal grocery shopping routine. This way you can choose snacks conscientiously rather than winding up with bags of chips and boxes of cookies.
2. Stock Up
Most teenagers won’t go out of their way to procure unhealthy snacks if there are healthy snacks that they like easily available. This means keeping the kitchen full of the kind of healthy snacks your teen likes to eat.
3. Check the Labels
Checking the labels is good advice for all your food, but when it comes to buying healthy snacks, it is even more important because sometimes the snacks sold as healthy are not. Check the labels for high sugar content, lots of fat and additional ingredients. For example, if you are buying dried fruit, make sure that the contents are made from fruit with nothing else added.
4. Pick Things They Like
The truth is, if they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. While your idea of a healthy snack might be a fat free yogurt or an apple, you are only wasting your money if those aren’t things they will actually eat. Consult your teenager and work together to come up with a list of healthy summer snacks that they will love.
5. Prep for Portion Control
One of the challenges of healthy summer snacking is that eating too much of anything can be a bad thing, even if it is a healthy snack. Help teens keep track of and control over their portions by pre-portioning their favorite snacks. Rather than putting a big bowl of grapes in the fridge, split the grapes up in sandwich bag size portions. This also works for things that teens like but may not be willing to do themselves like peeling oranges or popping air-popped popcorn.
6. Availability is Key
If you don’t want your teen indulging in unhealthy snacks, don’t stock up on them. By stocking the shelves with things that they like that are healthy to eat, you are setting your teen up for success. But if you buy three bags of cookies, you can’t expect them to choose the healthy snack over the cookies every time. If you would like the special treat of cookies in the house, buy only one package and stress moderation. Encourage your teen to consume one or two cookies a day, over the span of a few days as a special treat rather than several cookies as snacks repeatedly throughout the day. Bottom line – if you don’t want them to eat it, don’t have it in the house. If you do want it in the house, only have a moderate amount so you aren’t encouraging unhealthy options as a primary choice.
7. Skip the Sweet Drinks
Soft drinks, juice, energy drinks, all of these are ways that teens can add an enormous number of calories to their summer days. Encourage them to drink water, low fat milk, and other low calorie non-soft drink options.