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Top 10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips to Teach Your Family

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1) Pre-plan for food overload. Teach your children to limit excess sweets, by choosing just their favorites, sitting and eating instead of running around and eating cookies. Teaching your kids to eat slowly with awareness and savoring your holiday treats will help instill mindful eating. Never use name-calling, like “you don’t want to be a little piggy.” It can lead to food issues or eating disorders later; in addition, you won’t want your child calling other kids names later.

2) Pre-bank Some Calories: Many kids ask for more sweets during the holidays. Let them know in advance, for example “tomorrow you have your school party and there will be sweets. Let’s make sure we have balance for the week, so our bodies get what they need to grow healthy and strong. You can have dessert at the party.”

3) Get Moving: Make that extra effort to include some form of exercise or physical activity the next couple weeks. Our family favorite is standing a flashlight upright that blinks; we put on some great music and have a “disco” party.  When possible take walks together as a family and share your day. Try to schedule in some indoor ice-skating, play catch, or have a jumping jack contest during the commercials of the holiday movie you’re watching.

4) Reduce the Excess When Baking: When cooking with your kids try using reduced fat or non-fat substitutions for cream, sour cream, and butter. Even using whole milk in place of heavy cream works well for many recipes. Use some cocoa powder in place of unsweetened chocolate, gram cracker crust instead of traditional crust, or egg substitute in place of eggs. Cut the sugar by 1/3, use half whole grain and other healthy substitutes. Explain to your children you can cut some of these excess ingredients with out sacrificing taste.  This teaches them balance, and as adult they’ll end up living this lifestyle instilled during their childhood that promotes a healthy body. See our full list of healthy substitutions.

5) Choose Color. Teach your kids to balance their plate with color.  This helps them choose more fruit and veggies and try new foods! If there are no carrots at the party, this may be a great way to have them try orange sweet potatoes for the first time. Continue this theme through out the New Year with the Super Crew color guide.

6) Bring Your Own Healthy Dish! Make sure your contribution includes a side that will help your family meet your daily quota for fruits, vegetables, legumes or whole grains. For example, roasted green and white asparagus with garlic and lemon, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with basil leaves, or French green beans and white beans served with a great marinade –these all taste great and are healthy.

7) Be Beverage Smart! All year round teach your children smart beverage choices, then you won’t have to argue with them to avoid the soda, lemonades and fruit drinks. Model good beverage choices yourself by drinking water instead of diet soda or high calorie drinks. When choosing alcohol –choose wisely, drinking too much around children does have an impact on them as they start to believe this is what’s socially normal for their adulthood later.

  • Special holiday beverage treats for the family can include:  Sparkling apple juice, seltzer mixed with fruit juice, hot apple cider.
  • Festive ice cubes for color. Freeze berries, cherries, lemon or orange slices, a sprig of mint in ice cube trays. Fill with water, fruit juice, or sparkling beverage and freeze as usual.

8) Getting Your Zzzzz’s. The holidays are often stressful time. When you’re all clearly tired, don’t push it and stay up late. Go to bed early when it’s possible. The whole family will stay more positive and helpful with a good night sleep.

9) Include Non-Food Centered Family Traditions. Include activities that don’t center only on food or sitting and watching TV. Have a holiday mini-show. Have the children, dance, sing, play a musical instrument or put on a little show. Make it a tradition to play Pictionary, Scrabble, Charades, Karaoke or any family fun activity that doesn’t involve eating in excess.

10) Choose wisely. Candy and sweet calories can add up fast. Teach your child to look at all the sweets first and then choose their favorites. Help them cut and plate the right size for their bodies, not making a big deal or over emphasizing it. Just serve them the right kids portion size now. This teaches them a great skill they can carry through out life. If you do this on a regular basis with all foods, it won’t seem like sweets are being singled out. Consistency is key!

Enjoy the holidays with family & friends! Enjoy the sweet treats –but aim for balance and keep it fun & healthy!


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Comment on Top 10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips to Teach Your Family

2 Responses to “ Top 10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips to Teach Your Family ”

  1. Cindy Silver on December 30th, 2010 6:24 pm

    I really like your #6 tip — bring your own dish. As a registered dietitian, this is something I recommend all the time. It can be so simple — a box of Clementine oranges, a sliced fresh baguette and hummus, a big bowl of healthy homemade snack mix with plenty of plain popcorn to stretch. Setting a good example to friends and family is top priority!

  2. Melissa Halas-Liang on January 20th, 2011 11:04 am

    Thanks Cindy!

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