6 Healthy Summer Snacking Tips from a Dietitian: Keep Your Kids Fueled and Hydrated!

May 28, 2024 | Children's Health, Eating Well

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Hot days call for cool, healthy snacks that your family will love, and here in the South we have plenty of hot days! 

Summer is the perfect time to refresh your snack game. Dylan Camardelle, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian with Our Lady of Lourdes Children’s Health, offers expert tips and nutritious snack ideas to keep the whole family hydrated and energized.

Dylan’s biggest takeaway: Choose summer snacks your family will actually eat! Finding a balance of snacks that suits everyone is key. Here are six healthy ways to snack:

1. Refreshing and Nutritious: Seasonal Fruit and Veggies

To combat the summer heat, Dylan recommends incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into your snack routine. 

“Items like watermelon, grapefruit, berries and other fruits with high water content can be very refreshing,” Dylan says. “Eating whole fruits and vegetables provides a boost of energy, fiber and hydration.”

In our climate, we’re lucky to have access to a variety of seasonal produce almost year-round. Watermelons, berries and fruits with pits like peaches are excellent summer snack picks, providing hydration, vitamin C and fiber.

For veggies, consider okra, Bok choy, cucumbers, summer squash and tomatoes. 

“Eating these vegetables with the skin on is a great source of fiber and other micronutrients we need when it is hotter outside,” Dylan says.

2. Balanced Snacking with Protein and Whole Grains

Incorporating different food groups into your snacks can be simple and delicious. 

Remix your snack options with protein plus whole grain, like nut butter on crackers – then top with strawberries to get the hydration and benefits of fruit. Celery sticks with nut butter are another great way to combine food groups. 

3. Kid-Friendly Snacks for Summer Activities

When kids are active all day, they need a variety of nutrients to keep them going. 

“Start the day with a balanced breakfast,” Dylan advises. For snacks, he recommends cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix or even prepackaged crackers. 

“Individual packs of seeds or nuts with no added sugar or salt are also great portable snacks.”

4. Managing Portion Sizes

With more relaxed summer schedules, managing portion sizes can be challenging. 

Dylan’s advice, “Lay out your child’s snacks for the day. Let them choose and set specific snack times and portion sizes. Aim for three balanced meals and two snacks per day. Avoid snacking right before bedtime.”

5. Hydration for Active Kids

Hydration is crucial during summer activities but prioritize water. Too many sugary drinks can be a common summer snacking pitfall.

“Avoid giving too much fruit juice, milk or sports beverages,” Dylan says. “Kids should have no more than 8 ounces of 100% no sugar added fruit juice daily.”

When it comes to milk, there can be too much of a good thing. 

“Kids can easily consume excessive amounts of milk,” Dylan says. “Milk is not only calorically dense but very heavy on the stomach especially in warmer climates. Limit milk intake to 24 ounces per day.”

Water is key, especially in the heat. Kids should drink at least 16 ounces of water after intense exercise or sports. “Limit sports beverages to days with multiple events or excessive sweating,” he says.

6. Teaching Kids to Prepare Snacks

“Teaching your little ones how to prepare food and cook meals for themselves is a needed skill,” Dylan says. “Teach meal preparation step by step. Demonstrate simple tasks to prevent food waste and accidents.”

Being in the kitchen together can also be a lot of fun.

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