Your Health: Snack smart during the summer | CraigDailyPress.com

Your Health: Snack smart during the summer

— With the carefree months upon us, greater indulgences with what is eaten are not uncommon, especially with the younger crowd. But making good choices with your food doesn't have to be difficult.

Simple steps for snacking this summer will help both parents and children maintain a sensible diet for the months and years to come.

Shake up your produce

The nutritious nature of fruits and vegetables makes them a good food group to have around any time, though the presentation sometimes may leave something to be desired when serving them to kids.

Add a little bit of flavor to carrots and celery with healthy toppings such as hummus or peanut butter, depending on your tastes, or even double the nutrients of your fruit by complementing slices of apple or banana with some yogurt.

Things such as fruit kabobs also give a little bit of uncomplicated flair.

Another option is to combine many of your favorite fruits and veggies in the blender with a smoothie, a recommendation Kristie Yarmer, a pediatrician with The Memorial Hospital, makes to many parents looking for something wholesome and delicious.

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Find alternatives for unhealthy standbys

The summer often involves items such as ice cream and Popsicles as kids seek ways to beat the heat. Parents, who likely also want to cool off themselves, can prevent their children from a sugar overload by crafting their own treats, popping ice cube trays filled with fruit juice in the freezer.

And although juice may be a good substitute for some materials, especially soda, limiting the intake of it to no more than 6 to 8 ounces per day is advised.

"It's still a lot of sugar," Yarmer said. "Water is still the best thing to drink."

Sweet stuff isn't the only concern. Yarmer said a big issue regularly faced by families is heavily salted foods.

"Chips, especially," she said.

A little sodium goes a long way, and kids' cravings for salty materials can be satisfied by items such as air-popped popcorn — instead of microwaved — lightly salted pretzels or trail mix customized to your preferences.

Portion perspective is a priority

Prepackaged snacks often contain additives, preservatives and other multisyllabic ingredients parents wouldn't like to see their kids eat. However, one asset of such products is a helpful breakdown provided on boxes, bags, jars and other containers, as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"I always tell parents to look for the label," Yarmer said.

The Nutrition Facts label can give consumers an idea of the serving sizes they should be eating. Yarmer, who also recommends the website http://www.choosemyplate.gov as a resource, said regulating the serving size of snacks, healthy or unhealthy, is a significant part of the selection of one's diet. Parents taking their kids out for the day or on a lengthy vacation will make life easier with some minor advance preparation, distributing food in mindful amounts.

"Portion control is very important," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.