Holiday season is a time for families to come together and celebrate. These celebrations typically include special gatherings, recipes, and foods. Almost every parent observes changes in their kids’ behavior resulting from eating holiday foods loaded with sugar, refined flour, and the wrong types of fat. You can maintain your kids’ health during the holiday season by promoting smarter, healthier habits that will give them a head start on the New Year. Here are five useable tips to help you succeed:
- Smaller plates: I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it bears reminding – using smaller plates compels us to take less food to the table and typically results in less over-eating.
- Chew your food: encourage your kids to take the time to chew food thoroughly. This is important for two reasons. First, less total food is eaten by the time your stomach tells your brain it’s full, and second, chewing is an important part of digestion – by coating our food in enzymes that break it down into usable particles.
- Three major components: I typically don’t care what diet you want to call it, as long as each plate is comprised of mostly plants with an adequate amount of healthy fats, and a moderate amount of protein, I’m pretty happy. Rather than focusing on removing unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and simple carbohydrates, lets focus on what should be there.
- Use desserts as a disguise: here’s an opportunity to gently shift the idea of what dessert is from cakes and ice cream to simpler treats like berries. My favorite is some plain Greek yogurt with berries and a few dark chocolate chips. As well, healthier foods like avocado and black beans are replacing ingredients in some traditional dessert recipes.
- Focus on Color: encourage kids to include at least four colors of healthy foods in their daily nutrition. This can be a fun game to play – how many different colors can you incorporate?
Holiday time is often thought of as weight-gaining time thanks to more sugary, high-calorie foods and treats, but with some patience and redirection, this can be the start of a healthier, smarter New Year.
Dr. Brian Myers is a naturopathic primary care doctor with a focus on pediatric and family health at Live Well Clinic in La Quinta. Visit us at www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970.