Four Strategies for Healthy Family Eating During the Holidays

The holidays are such a wonderful time of celebration and excitement! Often that excitement means eating decadent foods like bikkies, cakes, lollies, and super-salty snacks. These treats are a central part of the holiday season for lots of families, and getting rid of them entirely isn’t necessarily the best way to go. What we want to instil in our children is a sense of balance in their diet – a balance that they can carry forward with them through to adulthood.
So in that spirit of balance, here are four solid strategies for healthy family eating during the holiday season.
Teach the Reasons
This is really the heart of healthy eating, no matter what time of year it is. When kids understand why they’re eating what they’re eating, they’re much more able to stick to it. Read about healthy habits and watch videos about the benefits of being healthy with your children. Learn about people who live to be really old, then learn about the eating habits that got them there. Find great athletes to be your inspiration!
Healthy Food First
There’s a reason that dessert tends to come last. Eating the healthy stuff to begin with will stave off the desire to eat the unhealthy food, or at least to overeat it. This can be a rule any time, not just during meals. Require that your child eat a bowl of grapes before the holiday bikkies, eat the salad before the mashed potatoes, and drink a glass of water before the egg nog or soft drink. Again, healthy habits that can stick around after the holiday season!
Stay Active
Being active is a solid way to encourage healthy eating habits. When we keep our bodies active, we’re much more likely to crave good, healthy foods. Plus the good hormones that are released during physical activity will keep kids from looking for that payoff from sweet or fatty snacks. Look for opportunities to get outside and play, which abound at this time of year.
Create Boundaries
Create reasonable, sensible, but also hard-and-fast rules about food. Then stick with them (even when it’s hard for you). You might only allow treats on weekends, not allow certain foods in the house, or limit the portions of unhealthy treats. Another great option is to mark a day that holiday eating can start, and then when it’s over so that everything gets back to normal and negative eating habits don’t continue long after the decorations are put away. Whatever boundaries you set, communicate them clearly, and stick with them. Those boundaries will get much easier to enforce with time, so realise that the worst is quickly behind you!
Eating healthily doesn’t have to be a massive chore, and it doesn’t have to make you feel like the bad guy. By communicating effectively, being realistic, and setting solid boundaries, you can absolutely do it. Happy Holidays!

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