The holiday season seems to start earlier every year. Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and all the associated school and neighborhood parties can pose a challenge to maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.
This is especially true for children, who have a lot to keep them busy at this time of year. Not to mention that it’s also cold and flu season.
So here are some tips for parents to help keep their kids healthy at least until the new year.
Keep healthy food choices in reach
There will inevitably be lots of yummy treats, desserts and sweets available to kids from many sources at this time of year. So keep lots of healthy options on hand throughout this season — plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and nutritious meals.
Make sure everyone starts the day with a healthy breakfast to provide them the fuel and energy they’ll need for a busy day.
Try to avoid buying high-calorie, sweetened drinks — there’ll doubtless be lots of opportunity to drink those outside of the home.
Don’t use food as a reward. This encourages the development of poor eating habits.
Get kids involved
We all feel motivated to be healthier when we’re involved in the decision, and kids are no different. Involve them in meal planning and preparation. Have each child help out in making at least one meal a week.
With shorter days and colder temperatures, it’s always tempting to give up on outdoor activities at this time of year. Which means parents need to plan ahead. Try to make sure everyone gets between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This doesn’t have to be all at once. A couple of walks through the day can add up. Housework, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or at school, and physical play at home all add up.
Bring the kids grocery shopping. This gets them more involved in making healthy eating choices, and it’s physical activity, too.
If you have a stationary bicycle or other exercise equipment in your home, don’t let it gather dust just because you’re busy with planning or celebrating the holidays.
And there are still plenty of activities you can do outdoors, from simple walks to a game of catch or shooting hoops. Keep it simple and fun.
Cold and flu season is here. The number one way to reduce your chances of catching one from someone else is frequent, good hand-washing with soap and warm water.
Everyone should also get a flu vaccination every year. And while you’re at it, check to make sure everyone’s immunizations are up to date.
Set a good example
Even though they may not admit it, kids learn their habits from their parents. Model healthy behavior by eating right yourself, staying active every day, not smoking and consuming alcohol in moderation.
For more information on staying healthy, visit our Nutrition and Lifestyle page.