Healthy tips, tricks and substitutions the whole family will love
The Holiday season is fast approaching. That’s means holiday dinners, office parties and loads of high calorie meals and seasonal snacks. It’s often hard for an adult to control indulging over the holidays, but it’s even harder for a child.Nancy Anderson, pediatric licensed registered dietitian at Baystate Children’s Hospital offers some tips to prevent you and your family from gaining those unwanted holiday pounds.
- Don’t skip meals. On the actual day of the holiday, the first thing you want to do is avoid skipping meals. It may seem counterintuitive, but in fact going to a holiday dinner overly hungry is what causes you to overeat, and that’s not a good habit for kids to start.. Be sure to eat breakfast; if you go to the table with a normal hunger you won’t tend to have your eyes become bigger than your stomach.
- Watch your portion size. Portion size plays a big part in weight gain and loss. Portion size for a child or adult for any food item is about the size of your palm. Dinner plates at one time were nine inches; today a nine inch plate is more on a luncheon size. Feel free to have your decorative holiday plates at the table. However, try to use smaller plates when serving your child. Children get overwhelmed if the portion size is too big
- Load up on fruits and vegetables. Fill your plate with more veggies. If children aren’t fans of veggies load up on more of the fruits they like. Your plate should be almost half full with fruits or vegetables. Try to avoid seasoning with a high fat content like butter and instead use herbs and spices for more flavor. Foods that are high in fiber help fill you up faster, o sotake advantage of any opportunity to leave skin on potatoes or use whole grains. These strategies will help you feel more satisfied for a longer period of time
- Don’t drink your calories. Try and drink water with your meal. Drinking water will help keep you from eating too much. Sometimes when you don’t hydrate enough,you tend to overeat. Don’t waste extra calories on high sugar and high calorie drinks. Instead, try diluting your favorite cider or fruit drink with seltzer water. Not only is it a healthier option, but the kids will love it. If you’re making egg nog, check out the internet for healthier low fat recipes.
- Make simple substitutions. One way to cut calories from your holiday meal that the whole family will still enjoy is to make simple substitutions that they’re not even aware of. Try using low fat milk, or avoid using two crusts on your pies, which are full of butter and fat. Instead, try fruit crisp or baked apples with cinnamon and sugar. Please see chart below for more healthy substitutions.
Sweet Recipes/ Baking
The holidays are a great time for food and celebration, but it’s also a time for family togetherness. Start new healthy traditions with the whole family, including walks, football games or any other kind of outdoor play. Depending upon the weather you may even want to try some fun video games that allow the whole family to move. Making healthy holiday traditions where everyone is gathered allows the whole family to enjoy active time together.
The holidays are also about preparing these special family traditional foods. Involve your children in the preparation process. You may find that they actually like things they never thought they did before, just by empowering them to prepare it.
We all have our favorite snacks and some are better than others when it comes to calories. However, don’t deny you or your family of your favorites. Those special foods or sometimes foods should be enjoyed, but not in excess. There is no reason not to purchase a small amount of your favorite holiday treats, but only if you are able to manage your portions. Offer the snacks with a healthy option that will help them fill up so they don’t overeat the treats.
A lot of people feel like the holidays are all or nothing. It’s only one day so it is ok to indulge a little. However, remember that children’s stomachs are small. It’s better for everyone to eat smaller portions more often with small snacks in between meals. Doing this helps keep you feeling satisfied and fuller longer, in turn your body will burn the calories a lot faster and you’ll store less fat.
Control what’s coming home
The holidays come along with a ton of gatherings and get-togethers. That means be prepared for leftover sweets that get sent home from school, office and family parties. Parents are the gatekeepers and control what comes into the home. If the children are young enough, sift through their treats and only keep their favorites. To keep them from overindulging, be sure to store it away and only allow them to have a little bit every day. If you do decide to have some holiday treats of your own, avoid leaving the treats out in bowls where the family can walk by and mindlessly eat handfuls. Those calories can really add up. It only takes an extra 200 calories a day to gain 20 pounds in one year. Put the candy out when the party is happening and avoid leftovers by sending some home with your guests.
For more information on Baystate Children’s Hospital, visit baystatehealth.org/bch.