(Family Features) - Summer is an exciting season for kids. Their activity level peaks and so does their appetite.
Leading food and nutrition expert Chere Bork, a registered dietitian with more than 30 years experience, and president and founder of Savor Your Life Today, Inc., helps busy parents guide their children's food choices into healthier options.
"Nutrition is essential to fuel the energy required for children's summertime activities," notes Bork. "Providing healthy on-the-go food options may be easier than you think with these five tips."
Enjoy Seasonal Eating. Now is the perfect time to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. And as seasons change, there are new options to offer. Try to include something from nature's harvest in every meal - fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, watermelon, sweet corn, green beans, and tomatoes.
Limit added sugars. Sweeteners are found in many foods, and when consumed in moderation, often serve a useful role in making nutrient-rich foods, like yogurt and flavored milk, palatable for children. These sweeteners contain the same calories per gram and are nutritionally equivalent. Parents should know that a sugar is a sugar, whether it comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, honey, or corn, such as high fructose corn syrup. To learn more about sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, visit www.SweetSurprise.com.
Pack simple snacks. Individual ready-to-eat servings such as low-fat yogurt or string cheese, and snacks that travel well in small, sealable bags like fruit, nuts, and vegetables work well for kids. Snacks can be part of a healthy diet, but they should be appropriately sized so your children can enjoy a full meal two to three hours later.
Make mealtime fun. To balance out the occasional treat, make healthy food choices readily available and enjoyable for young eaters. Try cutting fresh fruit into fun shapes with cookie cutters, or offering a variety of toppings for sweet corn on the cob and baked potatoes. And include kids in meal-time preparation.
Don't forget liquids. Keeping kids well hydrated is essential. Water is ideal. Encourage kids to drink even when they are not thirsty.
"The trick is to encourage kids to be active and allow them to enjoy their favorite foods, including sweets, in moderation," explains Bork. "Also, set a good example by eating a variety of foods yourself."