Family health

Healthy family: Our new normal

Deanna and her family decide to make some healthy changes to their annual May long weekend trip to the cottage.

By Deanna Miller
Healthy family: Our new normal

Deanna, Sara, Addison and some friends tubing last summer at the lake.

In my very first blog post for the Today’s Parent Healthy Family Challenge I wrote about how important “the lake” is to our family. Sheldon, who has been going there since he was a kid, introduced me to it when we started dating about 13 years ago and we’ve spent the majority of our summer weekends there ever since.
The long weekend in May is always our kick-off to summer. All of the lake families show up to open their cottages and then come together for a potluck dinner on Sunday night. As I’ve started thinking about our summer in relation to the Challenge, it has become increasingly apparent that our summer weekends are going to need a bit of a food makeover.
In general, I’d say that our core meals are healthy. After all, it’s the summer in a cottage with no electricity. We cook most of our meals on the barbecue so they almost always end up being a lean meat with salads or veggies. Lunch is going to need some work, though. I think we lived on hot dogs and chicken dogs last summer and since we’ve now moved as far away from processed food as we can, that’s not going to fly anymore.
Snacks are the issue. On the plus side, there’s always an abundance of fruit and the kids are happy to share a tray of cold fruit in the middle of a hot afternoon. If I think back to last summer though, we very often had chips, Cheezies, crackers, dips and freezies late in the afternoon for happy hour (before supper). Around the campfire later in the evening we’d break out more chips, marshmallows, s’mores and sugar doughnut holes roasted over the fire (a delicacy for those who’ve never tried them). Add the beer, wine and margaritas for the grown-ups on top of the food and the day quickly becomes a calorie disaster.
The good news is that we’re incredibly active on the weekends. There’s no TV, no computers and smartphones don’t work. We fill our days with swimming, boat rides to the diving rock, water skiing, tubing, playing in the woods, doing crafts and walking down the road. The kids are on the go from morning to night — running from cottage to cottage and figuring out their next activity at the drop of a hat.
There really is nothing better than a summer at the lake. We just need to figure out our new normal when it comes to food and, as I’ve learned over the past few months, it all comes down to planning (and maybe roasting sugar doughnut holes over the fire once a weekend versus twice).

This article was originally published on May 15, 2013

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