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Healthy Holiday Eating For Kids -- It Can Be Done!

Bridget Swinney, MS, RD

Once again, the holidays are upon us and you may be wondering -- how can you -- and your kids put the stop on sweets and manage to eat a somewhat healthy diet during the holidays? It can be done -- and it all boils down to one thing -- planning. Because by planning ahead, you can avoid sweet cravings, stops thru the drive-thru windows and other diet sabotaging activities! Here are some tips on planning ahead to have a ho-ho-healthy holiday diet:

  • Start now -- double your recipes now and freeze some meals ahead of time when the holiday crunch hits. Some good freezer foods include: lasagna and other casseroles, soups, stews and chili. Remember that healthy comfort food is always welcome during this often stressful season.

  • The best way to not be tempted to eat from the sweet temptations of the season is by not skipping meals and eating healthy snacks between meals. Breakfast truly is the most important meal -- and research shows that eating at eggs at breakfast can help you eat fewer calories throughout the day.

  • Snacks that include carbohydrate and protein have the most staying power; foods with fiber also help. For example apple slices and peanut butter, a cup of yogurt and orange slices, string cheese and whole grain crackers, raw veggies with a cup of milk, or a boiled egg with toast.

  • Always be prepared with some non-perishable snacks in the car. This will prevent you from grabbing a milkshake at the mall or a burger at the drive-thru. Examples: nuts, whole grain crackers, dry cereal, peanut butter crackers, granola and other whole grain snack bars, and dried fruit.

  • It just wouldn't be the same without some fresh baked cookies and other treats -- but teach the kids to enjoy them in moderation. Have sweets after a meal to prevent spoiled appetites and set an example by showing self-control yourself. "Those chocolates are delicious and I'd love another one but it wouldn't be smart."

  • Lighten up your cooking -- in many recipes, you can substitute healthy ingredients for high fat ones: pureed fruit or pureed beans for oil in quick bread, low fat or fat-free cheese, low fat sour cream, and half and half instead of heavy cream.

  • Help kids be aware of their appetite and encourage them to eat slowly. It takes up to 20 minutes for your stomach to sense that you are full!

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