With childhood overweight and obesity on the rise, the holiday season can be particularly problematic for kids. However, not indulging in the occasional holiday treat is no fun for anyone. How does a parent walk the fine line between looking out for your child’s health while not being a Grinch?
1. Make Healthy Substitutions: Try these easy switches to increase nutrients while decreasing calories, sugar, fat and salt:
Instead of potato chips or other fried chips, try baked whole-grain pita chips or other whole grain chips
Instead of adding butter and salt for flavoring to foods such as mashed potatoes or rice, try cooking in chicken broth and adding herbs and spices for additional flavor.
Sugary drinks, including fruit juices, can be a major source of extra calories. Try seltzer water flavored with a splash of juice or a non-calorie flavored drink.
2. Don’t Single Kids Out
If you are concerned about the weight of just one child in your family, make sure that you do not single the child out and restrict that child’s eating. Healthy eating should be practiced by all family members, regardless of size. Instead of forbidding certain foods, focus on portion sizes and make sure everyone’s eating is as healthy as it can be.
3. Watch Portion Sizes
One of the easiest things anyone can do to reduce calories is to simply reduce portion sizes. An easy trick to encourage smaller portions is to use smaller plates and bowls, that way you can fill up your whole plate with less food and are more likely to feel satisfied.
4. Get Moving
The long winter break can be an easy excuse for kids to sit around in front of the tv or video games all day. Plan time each day to get some physical activity. Plan a hike, go ice skating, play laser tag, walk around the neighborhood and look at the lights and decorations!
5. Get involved – Cook Together
Cooking with your children is one of the best ways to get them involved in taking charge of their nutrition. Children are much more likely to try foods that they have helped to cook. Learning to cook and understand the ingredients that go into foods is a lifelong skill that will help your children to become healthy eaters.