The holidays are a wonderful time to create new memories and connect with family members, but it also can be a difficult time to stay healthy for many families. With so many indulgent meals and snacks offered, there are a few strategies you can use to help your family this holiday season.
Practice Portion Control
To avoid overeating, try practicing portion control.
- Stick to one serving. If your child wants a second serving, try to fill their plate with things like vegetables rather than a second serving of potatoes.
- Be mindful of your child’s portion size.
- Meat servings should be the size of their palm or 3 ounces.
- Fruit or vegetable servings should be the size of their fist or 1 cup.
- Grain servings should be about a handful or ½ cup.
One of the biggest challenges to keeping your family healthy during the holidays is time. Between holiday activities and shopping, it can seem like your family is always on the go.
It’s okay to not have home cooked meals every night, as long as you plan ahead. Don’t let your family’s meal be an afterthought with these tips:
- Most fast food restaurants have healthy options. When deciding on an item, look for the ingredients rather than the calories.
- Grocery stores have a variety of pre-packed healthy meals to choose from that can be bought in advanced for busy days.
- If you’re spending a day running errands, plan out your food route, so you don’t get stuck eating in a mall food court or with limited options.
Staying healthy is not just about the meals you eat. There are several other creative ways to manage the holiday season.
- Try to incorporate exercise into your holiday activities and shopping.
- If your family is visiting a mall, park farther away to help get in extra steps.
- After dinner, suggest that your family goes for a walk or spends some time outdoors together.
- Brainstorm conversation topics for your family to discuss at the table, so the focus isn’t always about food.
- Avoid giving or getting gifts that revolve around food. While food baskets may make a great gift, it may not always include the healthiest items.
- When cooking or baking, substitute some unhealthy ingredients with healthy alternatives. For example:
- Top dessert with fresh fruit or non-fat dairy products rather than frosting.
- Use vegetable oil spread instead of butter.
- Substitute apple sauce for oil when baking cakes or muffins.
Do Everything in Moderation
While eating healthy is always good, it’s important to remember not to be so hard on yourself and your family. It’s okay to indulge in holiday favorites like desserts, as long you keep everything in moderation.
This article was written by Amanda Haney, MS, RD, CNSC, pediatric clinical dietitian III, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.