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Summertime Healthy Living – Keep Kids Eating Well in Summer

Keep Kids Eating Well (and Moving) in the Summer Months

With an abundance of fresh and accessible produce and warm temperatures, summer is an ideal time for healthier eating and physical activity behaviors. At the same time, summer treats and screen time also abound. With irregular meal and snack times, endless food options, too much screen time and not enough playtime, for many young people, summer break has evolved into a “break” from healthy living.  An appropriate balance of foods and plenty of daily outdoor play or another physical activity is vital.

The summer is an optimal time for all of us to engage in healthy living. With wide availability of fresh produce and easy access to the outdoors, summertime is the best time to eat and live well. Here are a few ideas for maintaining structure and well-being during the summer months:

1)    To prevent all-day munching, maintain a regular meal and snack schedule that includes three meals and one to two snacks per day, such as Fiber d’Lish bars. Outside of meal and snacks, “close” the kitchen.
2)    Limit time on all screens combined (TV, computer, games, etc.) to no more than one to two hours per day.
3)    Limit consumption of juice, soda, fruit punch, sport/energy drinks and any other sweet drinks to one cup per day. KIDS DON’T NEED SPORT/ENERGY DRINKS. Instead, provide plenty of chilled water to keep them hydrated in the heat.
4)    At least a couple of times each week, take advantage of local swimming pools, sports camps, tennis and basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, parks and playgrounds, etc.
5)    Take advantage of summer produce and prepare each meal to include at least one serving each of fruits and veggies. Serve fresh fruit for dessert.

Enjoy healthy living with these simple and healthy summertime snack recipes.

Banana Cream Smoothie

6 ice cubes
1 banana (sliced and frozen if possible)
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
½ cup low-fat milk or soy milk
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
(optional) 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (about 2 squares)


1. Place ice cubes into blender and crush ice.
2. Place remaining ingredients into a blender, except for graham crackers.
3. Blend until smooth.
4. Pour into cups.
5. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon (optional).

Makes 2, 1-cup servings.

Collard chips

1 Bunch collard green leaves (about 10-11 leaves)
Olive oil
Sea salt, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Wash collards, remove center stem and rip leaves into chip-size pieces.
3. In a bowl, toss leaves with olive oil.
4. Mist baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange collard pieces in single layer.
5. Sprinkle salt.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly brown and crisp.

Reference: Paul T. von Hippel, Brian Powell, Douglas B. Downey, and Nicholas J. Rowland.  The Effect of School on Overweight in Childhood: Gain in Body Mass Index During the School Year and During Summer Vacation. American Journal of Public Health: April 2007, Vol. 97, No. 4, pp. 696-702.

Anne Marie Picture

Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.