Living Wellness

Pack healthy for the beach

If you’re not careful, going to the beach can end up being an unhealthy outing for you and your kids.Dietician, Anél Kirstengives us some healthy tips for summer snacking. 

Many beach shops serve the usual suspects: pies, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and chips. In addition to being highly processed, most of the foods are high in calories, sugar and fat. After eating these foods you might find yourself and your kids feeling fatigued from the effects of all the refined carbohydrates and excess fats. Do your kids and yourself a favour by packing healthy beach snacks, lunches and beverages to keep everyone satisfied and energized for a fun-filled day.


“Use small food storage containers or resalable baggies (the snack-sized kind are perfect for portion control) to keep finger foods ready to go.”

1. Power up on bars

By now you’ve noted that individually packed snacks are the way to go if you’re beach bound. All-time favourites are cereal bars. All you have to do is pack them, dole the bars out and throw away the wrappers and these tasty snack bars don’t need to be chilled.

♥ HEALTH HINT: In terms of nutritional composition choose cereal bars that contain less than 180 kcal (750kJ), less than 25g carbohydrates, fat less than 10g and fibre more than 2g per snack bar.

4. Sandless Sandwich

For a day at the beach, you may need to be a little creative since regular bread can get soggy before it’s eaten. Instead of using loaf bread, make sandwiches on mini-bagels or on wraps. If wraps are big, cut them in half after you’ve rolled them. Keep the fillings simple. Peanut butter and jam is a good choice. So is ham with mustard. Tuna salad and chicken salad can make for great sandwiches if prepared with light mayo. Dice up some celery and onions in the salad for added crunch (and added veggies)!

HEALTH HINT: Celery contains antioxidants and other compounds that help fight bacteria, viruses and inflammation.

2. Meaty munchies

Biltong is a practically fat free protein source that will keep your kids mouth busy and stomachs fuller for longer. Pack 30g portions of nuts that can be eaten as a snack. The combination of healthy fat and protein can help keep you feeling fuller for longer especially when active.

♥ HEALTH HINT: Choose Pretzels instead of crisps. Pretzels are rich in carbohydrates and make the perfect fuel for an energy-consuming day at the beach.

5. Power Popcorn

Popcorn isn’t just fun to eat, it’s also healthy. Homemade popcorn is a filling and high fibre snack option to satisfy a crunchy craving. It’s also naturally low in fat. If you pop and season the popcorn yourself, you can make sure that it’s tasty and stays healthy. Be careful of ‘flavoured microwave popcorn’ – it could be very high in fat and salt. To keep it from entering the “bad for you” category, cook it in a small amount of canola or other healthy oil such as avocado oil.


♥ HEALTH HINT: Three cups of air-popped popcorn (hold the salt and butter) equals 100 calories (420 kilojoules), so munch away mamas!

3. Fruity Goodness

Mix up slices or chunks of pineapple, kiwi, mango, some seedless grapes or whatever else you find. Cherries can be good, too. Then stir in some frozen fruits – frozen grapes or strawberries will work well. All you have to do is wash them, pick off any bits of stem, put them in a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer. Pack the salad into small containers and keep those in the cooler or an insulated bag. Remember the spoons, and enjoy.

HEALTH HINT: Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant known to protect skin from degeneration – so perfect when spending days in the sun!

6. Dynamite Drinks

When you’re at the beach, you’re more likely to get dehydrated because of the heat so make sure to pack plenty of beverages to keep your family hydrated. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are most probably already dehydrated. Water is always the number number one choice for hydration. If water is a little too boring for the kids, jazz it up by adding orange slices, lemon slices, berries, or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water the day before. The water will take on the flavor of what you add to it and will taste very refreshing. Be careful of flavoured waters or vitamin waters since they are loaded with sugar.

♥ HEALTH HINT:If your kids are big juice fans, try keeping the portion to 125ml and filling the rest of the cup with water. They will still get the flavour they crave without the extra sugar and calories.


Anél Kirsten is the owner of Paarl Dietitians and mum of two boys. Anél studied at Stellenbosch University and qualified in 2002. After completing her compulsory community service year in Potchefstroom, she then travelled to the  United Kingdom where she lived and worked for 4 years as a locum dietitian and later on worked as a Specialist Paediatric Dietitian. Anél gained a wealth of experience during her stay in the UK – consulting paediatric patients in the Allergy, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes and Feeding clinics as well as patients on ward level, stroke rehabilitation and adult ICU

You can contact her here.

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