‘This the season to be jolly with Christmas parties, bourgeoning party buffet tables, and fizzy pop abounding – the chances are your kids will be attending multiple parties to overindulge. As a parent, being mindful of your kids eating and drinking habits and their overall activity levels, you can navigate towards the holidays without the fear of your kids overdoing the Christmas treats.
So here are our 12 top tips to help your kids this Christmas.
- Last in line with small plate
It is hard to moderate your children’s food choices when they go to other people’s houses and party buffets are an easy way to overeat. So instead of being first in line with a large plate piled high, get your kids to resist by joining the end of the queue, taking a smaller plate and don’t return for second helpings.
- Be really active
Every day of the Christmas holiday make it a family challenge to be active for about 60-70 minutes. If you’re going out shopping or visiting friends, either walk, cycle, scoot there, or drive them part way and park a good distance away or get off the bus/train a few stops earlier and walk the remaining distance. Make a game of taking the stairs and not the lift, or walk together as a family to the shops for those last minute groceries, rather than driving.
- Don’t party on an empty stomach
Rather than letting your kids “save up” to eat with abandon at the party, send them along with some food in their tummy. Let them enjoy a small snack of nuts, cheese, yoghurt, fruit or wholegrain crackers before the party; this will satisfy their hunger and will avert overeating at the party.
- Good vs Bad choices
Trying to get your kids to eat their 5 a day portions of fruit and vegetables is difficult on any ordinary day but even harder when there are so many lovely treats on offer around Christmas. Try to keep the “Bad” choices to a minimum but also balance these across the Christmas week. Try and avoid the binging and starving that can occur with parties. Teach your kids that bad choices need to be balanced with a lot more good choices, try a ratio of Good vs Bad of 10:1 portions and we can all be helped as parents with this rule of thumb.
- Walk the talk
Our children just follow our lead and if they see you making Bad food choices or not doing enough activity, they will copy you. By joining in with these 12 tips and making it a family endeavour, then your children will take on board tips for a healthier lifestyle and choices, and it will encourage all of you to be more mindful of what you are eating and improve your lifestyle habits. You’ve got to walk your talk if you want your kids to listen to your advice about healthy eating.
- Well-meaning relatives and friends
Who’s not been spoilt by Grandma and Grandpa with a bag of sweeties at Christmas or any time for that matter. If you want to avoid this happening you may need to talk with them ahead of the party and encourage gifts of another nature, such as a bat and ball game and play in the park, a new football and a game of ball in the back yard or something that doesn’t revolve around food.
- Don’t skip breakfast
Ensure they start the day well with a wholesome and nutritious breakfast. Sugary breakfast cereals are not a good start to the day! They need some protein as their metabolism needs the fuel early in the day to kick start it. By skipping breakfast they simply make up the calories they have missed later in the day but without the benefit of a higher metabolic rate and time to burn off excess calories.
- Use the serviette test
Foods high in saturated and trans fat are best to avoid if you want to keep the weight gain over the Christmas period. A simple test for parents is, if the food leaves an oily mark on your serviette leave it on your plate. Stock up on low fat yoghurts or snacks but be careful for hidden sugar in the low fat products.
- Beauty sleep never overrated
Getting enough sleep also helps both kids and adults maintain our weight, as we tend to consume more calories when we are tired. Typically we snack and pick more often in the evenings. As a result these extra calories do not have a chance to be burnt off and are stored as fat.
- Rethink your drink
Kids soft drinks contains a surprising amount of sugar, especially if you are drinking juices and fizzy pop. For a special treat, swap the fizzy pop for a low calorie version and keep their juice consumption to one or two a day. Watering down juice by just ¼ will also make a difference in reducing the sugar intake and try semi or skimmed milk, rather than full fat milk.
- Together make it fun
Family, friends, playtime and good times are what holiday celebrations are all about. Take the focus off food by encouraging your family and friends along for a rambling walk and adventure in the bracing winter sunshine and stop off along the way for a warming hot chocolate but hold the cakes.
- Stop the “picking”
Who can resist the leftovers and the delicious nibbles at parties? Children’s will power may not allow them to resist but after they have had a sufficient and appropriate amount to eat put away all the tempting treats from sight and get them to clean their teeth with a minty toothpaste. It helps them to stop eating on autopilot.
So this holiday season remember to not go crazy but to also allow your kids a little of what they fancy.
Author: Jessica Auton, Activ8rlives.com