Carefree girl eating fresh salad in kitchen

Summer Tips for Kids: Healthy Snacking and Staying Hydrated

Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training | Herbalife Nutrition​ | July 23, 2018
Having a busy summer with the kids? These tips will help you keep them hydrated and well nurtured while still having a blast https://hrbl.me/2LnuSdwClick To Tweet

For many parents, summer means more than awesome weather and bathing suits, it also means their kids will have lots of free time on their hands. So how to keep them active and well nurtured?

Healthy Snacking

Kids may be much more active in the summertime than they are during the school year, and they may also be exposed to hotter temperatures. With increased activity, they may need more frequent snacks to keep their energy levels up and to prevent them from getting overly hungry which can lead to cravings for less healthy foods. So it’s important to provide your kids with frequent healthy snacks.

My kids were generally pretty healthy snackers, but they were big fans of cereal bars and granola-type bars.  I allowed them to eat these because they were so active, and I knew they would certainly burn off the calories, but I also knew that they had a high sugar content and weren’t nearly as healthy as their names would imply. 

My kids are adults now and the food landscape has changed considerably: there are so many choices now for healthier bar-type snacks that have little added sugar and also offer some protein as well. Here are a few of my favorite snacks:

  • Watery fruits such as melon and berries with string cheese
  • A carton of yogurt
  • Turkey jerky (a good source of protein and helps replace sodium losses that occur through sweating) plus fruit
  • Protein bars made with nuts, fruits, seeds and little added sugar
  • Half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Hummus with baby carrots.

Staying Hydrated

With higher temperatures, it’s also important to stay well hydrated. Plain water is great, but a small amount of flavor may actually encourage your kids to drink more.  Sports drinks may be appropriate for active kids, or you can add some pieces of fresh fruit to a water bottle to infuse it with flavor. You can also add a splash of fruit juice to plain water or sparkling water for a refreshing drink.  It’s best to avoid a lot of fruit juice, since the calories are so concentrated.

You can make popsicles with diluted fruit juice or sports drinks, too. And don’t forget watery fruits like melon: they’re more than 90% water and can really help to replace fluid losses as well as potassium which is lost in sweat.

Food Safety

The bacteria in foods that can make you sick grow quickly at room temperature – and even faster when the thermometer climbs to 90 ºF (32 ºC) or so.  Keeping foods cold discourages the bacteria from growing and cooking foods destroys them, so the most basic rule is this: keep hot foods hot, and keep cold foods cold. 

When it comes to leftovers, an easy way to remember food storage guidelines is simple:  two hours, two inches, four days – the numbers make up the “2-2-4 rule”:

  • Two hours is how long foods can safely stay at room temperature after you’ve taken them out of the oven or off the grill – or, in the case of cold foods, how long they can safely stay out of the refrigerator or insulated cooler.
  • The two inch rule means that you should store leftover foods in shallow containers no more than two inches thick, so they can cool evenly and quickly. If containers are too deep, it takes too long for the food in the middle to cool down.
  • The last rule says that you should use your refrigerated leftovers within four days; otherwise you should toss them out. But many leftovers are pretty tasty, so chances are they’ll be long gone before then.