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Smart tips to keep your kids healthy the rest of summer break

Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. She has been featured on CBS4 Miami & is a published author on many health sites. Visit her website at www.ajohnsonnutrition.com

Summer break isn't over just yet – here's how to make sure your kids stay healthy the next few weeks

School is out for a few more weeks! For kids, summer break is one of the most anticipated times of the year. But for some parents, it can be a period of anxiety. As most parents don't have time off during their child's vacation, it means leaving them either in the care of a relative, a nanny, or even home-alone. With statistics showing that children gain weight two to three times faster during the summer than during the school year, it's important to make sure that they're staying healthy during their summer break. Use these tips to help make the rest of summer a little bit healthier!

1. Get them involved in physical activities

Archery, ballet, soccer, you name it, there’s probably a camp for it. Children need 60 minutes of exercise per day, so registering them for an activity that they are interested in helps them not only reach this goal, but also teaches them lifelong skills like teamwork, and helps keep them on a schedule. Limiting TV and video-game timecan also help as children who spend a lot of time watching TV and playing video games are less likely to be active.

2. Keep a set schedule

Summer time is notoriously known for sleeping in, watching TV and staying up late. Making sure to keep structure in your child's life will help keep them organized, making the transition back to school a lot easier in the Fall. Make sure they wake up and go to bed around the same time, and plan fun activities for them to participate in during the day.

3. Place unhealthy snacks out of sight and out of reach

Unhealthy snacks should be treated as "once-in-a-while" foods. By keeping these snacks out of reach and out of sight, you're removing the temptation from your children to mindlessly munch on these foods when you're not home. This allows you more control over when these foods are eaten and how much of these foods they eat. Remember, don’t take them away completely, as children will be more tempted to eat unhealthy foods when at a friend's house, even if they're not hungry — which can lead to bad eating habits later on in life. The "everything in moderation principle" should be encouraged with your kids too!

4. Keep healthy snacks in the fridge

Since we're limiting the availability of unhealthy snacks, you need to replace them with something else. Snacking is important for children as their nutritional needsmust be met for growth. Keeping pre-cut, healthy snacks in the refrigerator will make it easier for your children to eat healthy throughout the day and is a great way to help them get their fruits and veggies in. Try fresh cut fruit, sliced vegetables with hummus (carrot sticks and pepper are both colorful AND tasty), low-fat cheese sticks and whole grain crackers with peanut butter.

5. Keep cold water in the refrigerator instead of sodas

With temperatures rising, both children and adults need more water during the day. Keeping cold water in the fridge (and keeping the sodas out) will help kids stay hydrated in a healthy way without over doing it on the sugary drinks. Sodas should also be treated as a once-in-a-while treat, if not completely removed from the home.

Here's wishing you and your family a happy, safe and healthy summer!

For more great health tips, visit my website.

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