During the holiday season it is easy to pack on the pounds. Mixing large amounts of tempting food with time off from school to indulge in sedentary activities like watching TV and playing computer games can lead to unwanted pounds. With a little advance planning, you can help your child navigate the holiday season successfully. So what can you do to see that your kids enjoy this year’s festive season without gaining unnecessary weight?
Here are some tips
Downsize your portions
Did you know that the more food served, the more you will eat? This happens even if you don’t particularly like what we’re eating! Keep your child’s portions small, especially with calorie-laden foods like gravy, stuffing, and desserts. Still hungry? Load up on more vegetables and salad.
Stop eating directly out of the bag, box or container
It’s hard to keep track of how much food you’re eating when you nibble without using a plate. Remove what you plan to eat from the bag, package or container. Portioning the food out helps to avoid mindless hand-to-mouth munching that can add lots of extra calories.
Control the risk for temptation
Keep healthy snacks and non-sugary drinks in the house. Have cut up fruit and vegetables in the fridge along with bottled water and seltzer. If you bake your own cookies, make a small amount so that they are not around the house, always tempting you. Store the leftovers out of sight rather than on the kitchen counter so they are not staring you in the face. Out of sight… out of mind!
Set time aside for the family to engage in activity each day. Take a walk around the park. Go to the city and walk around. Enjoy the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center..…the decorations in the store windows. Getting out of the house is important. Although your child might be tempted to sit back and watch TV, try to limit screen and computer times to less than 2 hours a day.
Weigh in regularly
Check in with the scale at least once a week. Remember to do it first thing in the morning, before your child dresses. If the scale starts notching upward, that is your signal to cut back on portions and to rev up physical activity.
Have a healthy breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast gets the metabolism going and increases your child’s energy. Plus, research shows that people who eat breakfast end up eating fewer calories throughout the day.
Help your child eat more protein
Protein-rich foods as lean meats, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy, seafood, and beans will keep your child feeling satisfied longer. Complement these with single serving of whole grain food as brown rice or whole wheat pasta and a hefty portion of vegetables.
If you don’t thoroughly enjoy a food, don’t eat it. Why waste calories on foods that are not all that appealing? One bite is usually enough to tell whether you love it. If not, don’t worry about waste — just leave it on your plate. Use those extra calories for something you love.
Never go to a party of family gathering hungry
Enjoy soup, cut up carrot sticks or a salad before the meal. This takes the edge off your child’s hunger so he can be more selective about the selections made at the celebration.
Aim for quality over quantity
Satisfy a craving with a few bites or a small serving.
Savor every bite
At family feasts and other meals, sit down, relax, and enjoy every bite of your meal. Savor the flavors, textures, and aroma of each food. Eating slowly will help you enjoy the meal and will give your brain time to receive the signal that your stomach is happily full.
Broaden your focus
Enjoy the company of your family and friends so that food is not always center stage. Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the weather together.
Purchase holiday gifts that encourage activity
Rather than buying computer games, consider purchasing holiday presents for your child that will encourage physical activity, such as bikes, skateboards, balls and skipping ropes.
Try the one-a-day program
Limit yourself to no more than one indulgence per day. Don’t deprive yourself of all sugar for three days so you can pig out at the next family gathering. Be moderate in your thought process: one cookie, one candy, not one of everything all at once.
Remember, the holidays are meant to celebrate good times with family and friends
Enjoy the holidays and plan effective strategies to help your child achieve his weight- related goals. If you plan ahead, anticipating the risks, the chances are good that you can keep your child on a healthy path without missing any of the fun the season brings. Achieving what you sought out for will give you one more good reason for holiday cheer!