Now that school is out and the kids are home more often, it’s important that healthy habits are being encouraged. Summer break can be a great time to make healthy choices, but it can also be easy to let kids fall into a routine full of too much screen time and constant snacking. Focus on these tips and help your kids make choices and establish routines that will benefit them for life:

Variety is key

Summer is the perfect time to encourage a diet full of color and variety. With the abundance of fresh and affordable produce, it’s easy to fill your refrigerator with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. A plate of colorful food not only looks more appetizing, but it’s filled with important vitamins, minerals and fiber that provide energy and help prevent disease. Take your kids on a trip to a local farmers market and let them choose a fruit or vegetable that appeals to them.

Less juice, more water

Kids love sugary beverages, but water is the best form of hydration during the hot summer months. Juice provides extra calories that fill up little bodies throughout the day, causing them to reject food at meal and snack times. Not to mention the negative effects constant juice sipping can have on teeth. Fill a fun summer water bottle with cool water and keep it accessible to your kids all day long. It’s easy to grab and go when you head to the park or the pool.

Take it outside

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Encourage your kids to find an outside summer activity that they love. Swimming, riding bikes, playing soccer and climbing trees are all great ways for kids to stay active when the weather is nice. Use the long summer evenings to your advantage and take a family walk or enjoy a small hike. At least 60 minutes of physical activity each day can help children stay well, strengthen muscles and maintain a healthy weight.

Do it together

The best way to teach our children good habits is to model them ourselves. Spend time together growing vegetables in a garden or shopping for fresh produce. Find new recipes and let them join you in the kitchen to wash, peel and chop. Together you can take the time to set goals that encourage better choices, and as a result enjoy your healthiest summer yet.

Taryn Palmer is a registered dietitian for the Magic Valley YMCA.

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