By: Merilee A. Kern
Anyone who has ever traveled with a child KNOWS that snacks are an integral part of the trip! Rather than those fatty, salty, and sugary traveling snack staples, caregivers can – and should – offer children healthy, travel-friendly fare instead. It’s easier than you may think!
Considers these weight-wise travel snack suggestions:
- Any kind of pre-washed fresh fruit – nature’s gift to humanity
- Top AIR popped popcorn sprinkled with “butter buds” or with light parmesan cheese
- Pretzel sticks
- Roasted or raw almonds, walnuts, or peanuts (not oiled or candied)
- Low-fat string cheese or chunked low-fat cheese
- Cereal bars (first ingredient should be whole grain; each should have less than 10 grams of sugar per bar and maximum 3-4 grams of fat)
- Dried or dehydrated fruit, such as raisins; apricots, pears and apples
- Frozen grapes
- Baked chips, or healthy Pita Chips. Quarter whole wheat pitas and then season, bake, and bag to go
- Don’t forget the water!!!
Beyond snacking, on-the-go families might also heed this advice on how to avoid “health traps” while traveling:
- When eating out at a restaurant, steer your child toward healthy menu selections. Cooking technique can make all the difference in the nutritional content of meals! Help your child avoid foods that are fried, and order baked, grilled, poached, sautéed or stir-fried instead. At breakfast, the child can choose an egg white omelet or egg substitute product for those kids who won’t eat eggs that are not yellow, and ask they be prepared “dry” without added butter. Cold or hot cereals are good choices to enjoy with nonfat or 1% milk. Add fruit and low-sugar yogurt, if available.
- Fast food is sometimes unavoidable, so be sure to choose a restaurant that offers grilled chicken breasts, or have the child opt for a plain hamburger with relish and onions and mustard. Children should avoid the sauces and mayonnaise, though, which can up the calorie, fat, sugar and sodium content of the meal significantly! Any sub sandwich shop can be a good choice with lean meat, such as turkey breast, roast beef, or lean ham on a whole-wheat roll or wrap serving as body-friendly selections. Add lettuce, tomato, and any other vegetable and even mustard or ketchup to jazz it up.
- In a pinch, most hotels have a gift shop or other store that sells healthy items like bottled water, pieces of fresh fruit, and individual servings of cereal. These are usually fairly high priced, however, so it’s best to prepare ahead to assure your child can snack healthy during the vacation! Dedicate a small piece of luggage to edibles. Also don’t let kids get caught hungry without healthy snacks because then you’ll be far more apt to allow the child to eat foods that, shall we say, are less than nutritious.
- Even though your family vacation may be intended to let everyone relax and unwind, a good dose of activity will do everyone good. Family walks (even walking tours) are a great way to spend quality family time and will get children exercising without them even knowing it! If the hotel has a heated pool, let the child dive in and see how many laps they can do before tiring.
Whether outdoor or indoors, winter is a great a great time to keep kids moving. And, exercising need not be reserved for the outdoors as there is plenty kids can do inside of the house or even a hotel room to get fit! Here are just a few good ideas:
- Walk or run up and down a stairwell multiple times (skip a step for added intensity and effectiveness).
- Jump rope – yes, indoors too! Just assure the child has enough clearance from that cherished vase.
- Let the kids dance and “boogie” away those calories.
- Calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.) are fun when you hold a friendly competition!
- Hula hoop where, again, clearance is key here!
- Yoga (yes, for kids, too!) is great for developing body coordination and balance.
- Stretching provides flexibility, which is another sign of a healthy body.
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