Perhaps you have a special place you keep snacks in your house? A pantry, cupboard, a deep drawer, or the counter may be places you hide or keep in plain sight the snacks of the house. The secret to summer survival is keeping the good snacks in the open and hiding any junk food out of sight.
Now that it is officially the start of summer, kids will be home all day, likely grazing on the foods you have in the kitchen. Depending on the age of the children in your house, you may need a large supply of food to keep them eating normally when the summer schedule tends to be more relaxed than the school year. The type of foods you have in your house should also depend upon what your kids do all Summer and what their goals are? (Pictured is our family food drawer as we have a mix of athletes, busy kids, who also like time playing video games during the summer.)
Typically, households in America have one or a mix of the following types of kids:
- Athletes who need fuel for summer sports, camps, and activities
- Busy young adults in high school or home from college, maybe working part time
- Sedentary kids who will do very little all summer, but eat and play video games
You may want to arrange a snack and meal program over the summer to avoid too much junk food, focus on healthier snacks and meals, and help your kids reach a goal of getting healthier this summer.
Here are some options for each type of kid:
The Athletic Kid
For the Athlete who plays multiple games on the weekends, travels to hot and humid areas for tournaments, and needs fuel for training, recovery, hydration, here is a list and how to consider their care and feeding:
After, Before, and During Workouts (in between events) – If their competitive days are long with practices and multiple games on weekends, You need to think that planning their post- long workout / event meals and snacks as the fuel to help them recover and prepare them for the next day's events. Related Article: The ABD’s of Nutrition
Addition Things to consider:
Recovering from the Heat - They will need both food and drink to rehydrate and provide electrolytes (salt – sodium, potassium) to recover from those hot / humid activities that leave them wringing sweat out of their shirts. Cool down – get them into a swimming pool or under a hose for 5-10 minutes to cool their body temperature after hot summer events. If you are even feeling tired, lethargic, and you have completed all the post-workout hydration and good food intake, you likely need to add some salt to your foods. Good sources are nuts, seeds, kiwi, bananas, even a can chicken noodle soup. I personally treat dehydration and low electrolytes from a workout the same way I treat the flu – with chicken noodle soup. Try Campbell’s Chicken Noodle O’s for added potassium and sodium if needed.
Read more about dealing with heat and fatigue: Half of your fatigue is body heat.
Proteins – Sources of protein can vary for the teen athlete. Animal proteins such as eggs, meat, fish, chicken, dairy (chocolate milk) are good places to start. If you prefer non-animal proteins, you can opt for nuts, soy protein, almond milk, whole wheat pasta, beans, peas, and protein powders. I would select pure protein that has food label on the back with NUTRITIONAL FACTS vs SUPPLEMENT FACTS. That way you can be sure it is only FOOD with no other additives. Read more about choosing protein: Protein Supplementation – Do You Need It?
Carbohydrates – There are many good sources of carbs that meet our bodies’ needs. Fruits, vegetables, whole wheat multi-grain breads, and pastas, are all staples for the needed vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants a hard working body needs as a primary energy source, as well as for recovery and preparation for the next day’s activities.
Fats – There are good fats too. Nuts, fish, olives, olive oil, seeds are all great options. Many of these also come salted which if sweating profusely all day, the need for electrolytes with your water will help your body work the way it is supposed to.
For the Busy Teen Schedule
For the busy teen, who may work, intern, or doing Summer School, you may need to enforce good meals prior to departing the house. Timely eating of regular meals and not skipping a meal is typically the goal with this group. Having healthy snacks in between meals will help with productivity and dealing with the stress of new environments and activities. If their job takes them outside performing manual labor like many summer jobs, you have to plan the same way as the athletic teen would. However, if their job keeps them inside, at a desk, limiting calories to avoid over-eating is a good option. Squeezing in a workout or activity period is critical to their health as well. Hitting the gym, taking a walk, or other activity can help to burn some calories as well as relieve some job-related stress.
For the Inactive Teen
You have to get them out of the house, whether it’s doing something in the yard, a neighbor’s yard work, or just playing, or working out. A basic calisthenics light-weight dumbbell workout is a start – See this 45 Day Plan and Light Weight Shoulder Workout for options, even if only for 20-30 minutes a day. Set a limit to their sedentary activity and the foods in the house need to be lower in calorie but healthy options as listed below. There is no room for junk food if they are sedentary. Force healthy snacks by keeping junk food out of the house and making a snack drawer as pictured above.
Our Snack Drawer
Consider a trail mix with nuts, raisins, M&Ms, roasted / salted peanuts, beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, Nature Valley protein bars, Special K protein snacks, Sun chips, and of course favorite fruits such as bananas, Halo tangerines, apples, and Gatorade when you need recovery after hot activities.
You can also stock up on raw and steamed vegetables – a big salad with green lettuce (as pictured), strawberries, tomatoes, carrot sticks, and onions is a great healthy addition to any meal. Top it off with chicken or tuna and you have a perfect meal (in my opinion). Also adding in steamed vegetables like asparagus and broccoli can be a quick snack or side to any meal.