It's the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is filled with festive gatherings and celebrations, which often center around food and drink. While the celebrations are fun, constant snacking can present challenges for those who attempt to eat healthy during the holidays. Planning ahead and being educated about what choices to make when reaching for the cookie plate can help you know precisely which treats are the worst offenders for your teeth and your health and which ones are the better options.
Here are eight helpful ways to encourage healthier holiday eating habits for the whole family this year.
Guide Their Choices Rather Than Dictate
Almost all parents experience how much their kids slow down or become hyperactive after eating holiday foods loaded with sugar, refined flour, and the wrong types of fat. Encourage your kids to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to help guide them to healthier alternatives that will leave their bodies more satisfied.
Get Your Kids Involved In Shopping and Cooking
Start at the source and teach your kids about different fruits and vegetables while making your weekly shopping trip. A special Saturday morning outing to the supermarket helps your children see foods in a different setting rather than at home in the kitchen. Introduce them to new produce items that you don't typically gravitate towards, and work together to create healthy, fun family meals. Every color of fruit and vegetables offers a unique health benefit for your entire family, so make an effort to gather items of different colors.
Plan Ahead For Snacks
Keeping your kitchen and pantry stocked with exclusively healthy treats, inconvenient grab-and-go bags is the best way to get your kids reaching for the healthy alternatives. Keep the snacks in convenient places for your kids to help themselves.
Mom Hack: Invest in a few plastic containers and label them with the days of the week for snacks. Taking a few extra minutes on grocery day and planning snacks out ahead of time will help eliminate the "mom, I'm hungry" complaints and make your kids more self-sufficient.
Eat Meals Together As a Family
Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. Share memories of Christmas when you were a child, and ask your kids about the types of memories they have or the traditions they enjoy most.
Lead By Example
A recent study found that young children's food tastes are significantly related to their parents' favorite foods. Having your child watch you order fresh and healthy options at restaurants rather than a burger and fries through the drive-thru encourages them to establish healthy eating habits both at home and out.
Keep Offering New Foods In Different Ways
Studies show that most children require multiple exposures to new foods before they willingly eat them independently. Offering broccoli between 5-10 times, prepared in different ways, will help the new food become familiar to your child and allow them to be more willing to eat it when it's put on their plate.
Use Dessert as a Disguise
Dessert is a great way to incorporate high-protein items like black beans into an after-dinner treat. Replace black beans for a portion of the flour to make black bean brownies and boost the fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotics. Keep the secret ingredient to yourself, and take pride in knowing you're still letting your family indulge in something special while making it a healthier alternative to traditional sugar-filled treats.
If certain members of your family have yet to see a dentist for their second cleaning and exam of 2021, contact Elite Dental & Denture PC today to make an appointment.