Put Down the Ice Cream Cone! How to Keep Summer Eating Healthy

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Image via EverydayFamily

Summer often goes hand in hand with ice cream cones, popsicles, and even candy. In fact, when I think back to my own childhood, I can still taste the little red gummy fish on my tongue after a long day of playing in the sun.

Sometimes kids can go overboard with the fun treats without even realizing it or become so off schedule that they miss out on hunger cues until it's too late.

While families tend to relax during the summer months, it's important to continue to encourage healthy eating.

As parents, we have to remember that kids still need guidance, even when the classroom feels like a distant memory.

Moderation is crucial, and creating fun desserts out of fresh summer fruits can break the ice cream cycle.

kids eating
Image via iStock

Stay on schedule

Life is different during the summer months. While some kids are up and out early for various camps and activities, others stay in their pajamas a little bit longer each day. Schedule changes can change the way kids eat, and it helps to stick to roughly the same eating schedule that your kids follow during the year.

Many kids become cranky, frustrated, or lethargic when they haven't eaten. While your kids might be outside and busy playing more often than not during the summer, try to maintain a reasonable eating schedule with healthy snacks available to refuel at certain intervals. Set an alert on your phone if you tend to lose track of time. Energized kids have more fun!

{ MORE: Probiotics and Baby: What You Need to Know }

family fun
Image via iStock

Everything in moderation

Ice cream cones practically scream summer. I must admit this is a favorite treat for my kids, and they would probably eat ice cream five days a week if I would let them. (So would I, so who am I to judge?) But we all know that too much ice cream (or candy or strawberry shortcake) is just too much. Forget about the sugar high, it's the crash that leads to tears and tantrums.

Mix it up this summer. Establish certain days for a sweet treat and get creative in the kitchen the other days. Kids love to cook, and sometimes, cooking up their own meals helps reduce the dependence on treats and desserts. You know what else is great? Fifteen minutes of extra outside time instead of eating something sweet and sugary. There's something about playing while the stars emerge that beats a sundae every time.

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Image via Kelly Pugliano for EF Eats

Fresh fruit creations

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I remember the red fish, and I remember the ice cream cones with too many sprinkles, but some of my favorite summer memories involve watermelon juice dribbling down my chin while sitting at a picnic table with my siblings and our neighbors.

Summer is the best time of the year for fresh, delicious fruit. Never underestimate the allure of a fruit kebab or an enormous bowl of deep-red strawberries. Fruit desserts shared with neighborhood friends make for memories that will last a lifetime.

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What is your favorite healthy summer treat?

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Put Down the Ice Cream Cone! How to Keep Summer Eating Healthy

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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