This is the time of year when overindulgence becomes our middle name. This is also true for our kids. It is hard to resist when there are commercials on TV with beautiful footage of candy, enticing our children to eat more of it. Then there are the displays at the grocery store, drug store and our favorite box stores that are designed just for kids, are in every aisle and scream “pick me”, “eat me” and “buy more”. The displays don’t stop until we get through New Year’s Day; they just change out the colors and themes. Hard to imagine we can get any of our kids to look at a fresh piece of fruit much less a vegetable at this time of year.
It is no wonder our kids are now battling weight gain in similar ways as their parents. And as we all know, it is much harder to take it off than to never gain it in the first place. Not to mention how important it is to learn healthy habits when young.
So here are 10 fun, creative ways to help you and your kids from overindulging to the point of gaining unwanted weight over the holidays:
- Start a new and healthier tradition. Make healthier homemade treats that you can make with your kids and share with your friends and neighbors. This way you can control the ingredients and the size you make the treats which helps manage the nutrition and calories. (Try a maple squash muffin or see my blog for healthy cookies, breads and cake.)
- Make up your own “Just Dance” game. After dinner put on some fun “dancing” music and dance with your kids or play an active game of Charades. Burning a few extra calories will help off set any extra indulgences over the holidays. (Spotify is free and has many genres to choose from. I like “Club/House” for dancing.)
- Get some help in the kitchen at mealtime. Have your kids design a couple of meals using recipes. The one rule is it has to be a balanced meal. Have them go to the grocery store to help pick out the ingredients. Then when it is time to prepare the food have them participate. You will be amazed at how much they enjoy the fruits of their labor! (Check out the LivligaHome.com website for menus and recipes; myrecipes.com is another great resource.)
- Structure is key. When your kids have days off of school over the holidays, make sure their days are structured…not necessarily completely programmed, just organized so they don’t end up in front of the TV for hours where overeating is easy. (Have your kids pick what they want to do and make a schedule so they are more likely to follow it.)
- Read good books together. Visit the library and choose books that are about adventure, people helping each other or learning about being healthy (an award winning example is Sammie & Sax in the Land of Quinoa: The Search for a Balanced Meal. I confess, I wrote it!) Avoid books focused on the excesses of the holidays.
- Right size your kids’ plates. Treat your kids to plates that are right-sized for them. Serving them on adult sized plates encourages eating adult sized portions. Plates right-sized for kids will allow them to naturally choose portions scaled to age appropriate servings. (Kidliga offers two choices of right-sized, beautifully designed sets at http://www.LivligaHome.com.)
- “How much are my kids really eating?” game. Start talking about serving sizes of the different types of foods. Then have them serve themselves up a typical serving of their favorite food. Have them figure out how many servings they are actually eating and the calories they are consuming. (Most people and kids are really shocked when they do this with the cereal they eat for breakfast.)
- Pay it forward. Volunteer as a family at a food panty or soup kitchen. Spend some time helping others while growing in your understanding of how nutrition is really important for everyone. (What a gift you can give your kids about how feeding your heart with good deeds is an important part of a truly balanced diet of life.)
- Go harvest your own food. There is nothing better than picking your own food right off the tree or vine. Find a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch and spend an afternoon in the open air choosing and harvesting the food you want. Guaranteed it will taste better than anything you have ever bought in the store! (You can often find great deals and discounts in your local paper or online through LivingSocial.com deals.)
- Find the “Glee” in singing. There is nothing more fun or festive than singing! Join a group that goes to area nursing homes to sing carols and spread some cheer. Or volunteer for a couple of hours for the Salvation Army and sing songs for donations. Even better, create your own group and ring your neighbors’ doorbells and when they answer share a song of good cheer. (Calling a local church or senior center is an easy way to get connected.)
As you may have noticed with the above suggestions about how to help your kids and you from over eating through the holidays, they are mainly about focusing your attention on activities other than eating. The best counter balance to overeating over the holidays is to take control of the preparation of the food you eat and the amounts you serve. They are also about getting up and out doing things you don’t ordinarily do to make the holidays special, more active and way more fun because you are doing what the holidays are really all about—spending time together as a family in fun and creative ways. The best way to help your kids through the holidays is to participate in healthy eating and healthy activities.
Happy, Healthy Holidays!