Moran Kilzi, registered clinical dietitian and coordinator of Leket Israel’s nutrition and food safety department, shares healthy and tasty tips and a recipe for healthy snack bars for the challenging season of summer vacation.
Summer vacation has begun, the kids are running around the house or staring at screens, the refrigerator is being opened and closed non-stop, as is the sweets drawer. You, of course, are managing it all: inviting friends over, bringing the kids to camps, buying games, all to keep them busy. But what are they eating? How much are they eating? Do you feel that this is a little harder to control?
Sometimes, amidst all of the chaos it’s difficult to keep track of everything that your child is eating. In order to stay on top of our children’s health and prevent unnecessary weight gain, it is important to focus on good nutrition, especially during the summer months.
How can you do it?
Breakfast- Children should eat a nutritious breakfast that combines fiber-rich whole grains and protein. A good and satisfying breakfast reduces snacking during the rest of the morning and helps maintain a positive mood and energy during the day and a healthy body weight overall.
Examples of a healthy breakfast: A slice of whole wheat bread or toast with 5% cheese, hummus, avocado, egg or tuna –best served with a few olives and cut up vegetables– whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal, or yogurt with sliced fruit and a sprinkle of granola.
Easy and healthy snacks- Have healthy options available to reduce the amount of junk food snacks and sweets your child eats. For example: Put out veggie sticks, cut up fruit or corn on the cob available on the kitchen or living room table. If you are going to buy junk food, it’s best to buy individual-size snacks bags or mini chocolates in order to keep portions under control. Take advantage of the time with your kids and make homemade treats with them like cookies, energy bars, stovetop popcorn or frozen fruit –a fun snack for hot days.
Hunger vs. Thirst- We often think we’re hungry when we’re really just thirsty which can lead to overeating. This can be prevented by making sure to drink enough water. It’s also important to ensure that your children drink enough liquids, to help keep from buying sugary, high-calorie drinks. Plain water can be spiced up with lemon slices, halved grapes or mint leaves.
Reducing idle hours- One of the main reasons children overeat during summer vacation is boredom. Too many hours in front of a television or computer screen or having nothing at all to do increase the desire to go looking for ready-to-eat food, which is often full of sugar and fat, to help pass the time. Try to limit idle hours so that your children will be more active and snack less. Sign them up for activities, take them to the playground or to ride their bikes, engage them in swimming “competitions” at the pool or anything else that requires them to use energy.
Yes, sometimes summer vacation is a big challenge for us parents, but with the right priorities, we can achieve success.
Healthy snack bar
1 cup raw tahini
1 cup honey
5 cups rice cereal or cornflakes, crushed
2 cups sesame seeds
Mix honey and tahini and heat in a pan or in the microwave.
Add cereal and sesame seeds.
Spread mixture in thin layer on tray covered in baking paper. Use cup or rolling pin to help spread mixture evenly.
Refrigerate for at least half an hour until mixture begins to harden.
Cut into rectangles and serve.