Healthy Holiday Eating Tips Good Year-Round

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by our friends at Women’s & Children’s Hospital and authored by Dr. Janna Flint Wilson. 

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips Good Year-Round

The holiday season is upon us in Acadiana.

And, in the heart of Cajun and Creole cultures, holidays typically mean large gatherings around decadent meals and treats that we may enjoy only at this time of year.

The good news is that you don’t need a degree in nutrition to navigate holiday soirees, and you don’t have to bypass pralines, sweet potato bread, green bean casserole with French-fried onions and other delectable delights. Rather, following some basic guidelines can help you eat right, maintain a healthy weight and ensure your family is eating healthy while still enjoying holiday meals.

Here are Nine Healthy Eating Tips that can give you the edge on holiday meals and ensure your family is eating well year-round:

Parents control the supply lines. You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. Though kids will pester you for less nutritious foods, adults should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Kids won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the pantry and fridge at home. Research has shown that snacking on high-carbohydrate snacks such as chips, pretzels, crackers, etc. is associated with weight gain. Healthier snacking choices include fruits, veggies, eggs, cheese and yogurt. With the snack foods such as chips, the more we eat, the more we want, and kids are no exception.

holiday eating tips for the whole family

Quit the “clean-plate club,” especially at holiday meals. Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.

Start them young. Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food several different times for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites or even a sniff of the new food. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.

Rewrite the kids’ menu. Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try.

Drink calories count. Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Other beverages with calories (soda, juice, sports drinks, sweet tea, etc.) lead to weight gain

Put sweets in their place. Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, kids naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.

Food is not love. Find better ways to say “I love you.” When foods are used to reward kids and show affection, they may start using food to cope with stress or other emotions. Offer hugs, praise and attention instead of food treats.

Kids do as you do. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table and don’t skip meals.

Limit TV and computer time. When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on TV-watching also reduced their percentage of body fat. When TV and computer time are limited, they’ll find more active things to do. And, limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under 18 months, and a max of one hour per day of screen time for kids ages 2 to 5 years.

Meet the Author:

Dr. Dr. Janna Flint Wilson is a Pediatric Endocrinologist with the Kids Specialty Center at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Learn more at food and eating options during Christmas

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