Tips for keeping kids diets healthy over summer

Make sure your kids enjoy a junk food-free vacation


Summer vacation can mean long hours in the car and takeaway at auto centres on the highway. Once at your destination the restaurants and cuisines of a new city (desserts!) or catching up with friends and family over traditional feasts means children’s diets risk becoming less than optimum.

Time Out Beijing Family found expert advice on keeping little ones healthy and properly nourished while on the road.

The Nutritionist

Stella Chan Marinaro

Raffles Medical Beijing

When it comes to restaurant dining, children’s menus are notorious for offering hotdogs, chicken fingers, fries, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pizza, all of which can be enjoyed occasionally.

However, it is both unhealthy and unnecessary to jeopardise your children’s health and wellbeing with too many high fat restaurant meals. Encourage them to order an appetiser with a side of vegetables instead. If you have more than one child, consider having them share a main course from the regular menu.

Most meals do not provide enough vegetables, so order some fresh sautéed string beans, broccoli, or mixed vegetables for everyone to enjoy.

Hotel breakfast buffets always feature magnificent displays of enticing choices, but many are high in fat and sugar. During longer stays consider ordering breakfast to your room and select fruit and yoghurt, oatmeal, or a vegetable omelet for breakfast. To keep your children active this summer, encourage greater outdoor activities.

Look for programmes and camps which offer outdoor fun and sports. If you are travelling, elect to do your sightseeing and exploring on foot or by bike rather than by tour buses.

Remember to protect your children from the sun’s harmful rays with hats and sunscreen, and keep them hydrated with refreshing water to quench their thirst.

The Paediatrician

Xiaoping Meng

Hong Kong International Medical Clinic, Beijing

Dining out with kids can bea headache for parents. It is irresponsible to satisfy their cravings for junk food, yet to completely follow the advice of nutrition experts will leave children very unhappy.

It is the job of parents to help children develop healthy eating habits and learn to make wise choices. Sometimes a little adjustment is all that’s needed to make a meal more nutritious. Chips can be replaced with sweet corn and soft drink with milk, for example.

Avoid meals that include a super large size of soft drink with unlimited refills and while fries, chicken wings or fried pork chops may be a child’s favourite dishes these foods must not be a regular choice, even on holiday. Once children’s tastebuds become accustomed to this fried and salty food it is difficult to return to healthy eating.

But does that mean all salad is healthy? Salad is generally a good choice but take care of the dressing you allow your children to apply. Dressings like thousand island or mayonnaise are very rich in calories. Encourage your child to eat salad without adding dressing.

Treat food like an interesting game. Eating with clean hands can make food more fun or create a special treat by rolling meat, noodles and other foods inside a large lettuce leaf.

Prepare in advance for snack time and buy food from supermarkets you pass on your travels. Milk, yoghurt, fruit and whole wheat biscuits are good choices. Ice cream, chocolate and sweet biscuits can be used as an occasional reward. ■

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