Practicing Mindful Eating During the Holiday Season

Posted December 9, 2015 | kids, Nutrition & Health Tips, recipes

Tis’ the season for friends, family, traditions and…. yummy food! Kids are introduced to a myriad of traditions during the holiday which typically engender warm and fond memories. When it comes to mealtimes, they can become a bit challenging. From sweet treats like pumpkin pie to decadent entrees like turkey and stuffing, the holidays are often a time of caloric indulgence and motivating healthful behaviors while not compromising the joys of indulgence can be tricky.

While we can’t ignore the fact that tasty treats seem to appear everywhere during the holidays, we can still be mindful, healthful and enjoy the season and all of its delicious glory! While it is okay to celebrate and enjoy yourself, it is important to make sure that your family practices moderation, especially when it comes to your young children.

Here are some tips to help you and your family stay on track with good eating habits:

  • Depending on their age, take your children with you when you shop for the holiday meal and ask for their input. Should our vegetable be carrots, broccoli or cauliflower?
  • Bring the kids into the kitchen. This will help allow them to understand and appreciate the work that goes into preparing the meal.
  • Plan ahead. If you know that Grandma’s house is going to be filled with sugar-laden desserts and sweets, bring carrot sticks or other healthful snacks. Try giving them to the kids when they’re hungry and before you arrive to Grandma’s.
  • Practice what you preach. If you want your kids to eat well, then you have to eat well. Remember that they will follow your lead and that children model their behaviors after ours!
  • Eat normally leading up to the big meal. Don’t encourage skipping meals or “saving calories” for the big meal. Incorporate fiber and protein throughout the day. You want kids to not feel crazed with hunger, particularly if they aren’t going to eat much on their rather different-from-usual plate.
  • Let kids serve themselves. Adults tend to overestimate the amount of food kids can eat, and young kids are usually good at self-regulating.
  • It’s OK if they don’t clean their plate. Even if your kid serves themselves more food than they can eat, don’t make them be part of the “clean plate club” – it’s okay if they don’t finish everything.
  • End the day on a healthy note. Take a walk with everyone after big family dinners. You can enjoy one another’s company, fresh air or the pretty neighborhood lights.

The holidays are a time of appreciation and togetherness. As families get together and share meals, children are introduced to an array of different and often new foods. For the picky eater, these experiences may bring about verbal criticisms and down right refusal to try certain things.

For those who tend to be on the pickier side, the following tricks can be helpful:

  • Do a dry run– experiment with a certain food or dish before the event in a non-stressful environment. You want the experience to be as positive as possible.
  • Try using this time as a fun experiment and put them to work! For example, if Brussel sprouts elicit a “blechild santa flourh” response, talk about new ways to prepare them like roasting them so that they’re crispy and tasty rather than dull and mushy. Collaborate with them and allow them to help. They will be much more inclined to try it when they’ve been involved in the process.
  • Encourage them to try what’s on their plate. Communicate the importance of gratitude towards the meal and all that went into it.

The holiday season also brings about colder weather. Therefore it is also important to
make sure that children are getting their nutrition that they need. Cold weather requires healthy fuel such as those offered by warming foods. Soups, stews, and other warm, hearty meals are a good choice, as are winter vegetables such as dark, leafy kale, pumpkins, and squash. Swap out cold breakfast cereal for warm oatmeal and add in dates to give it a sweet texture without adding in too much sugar.

Really and truly, it’s all about balance, moderation and about teaching your children to enjoy treats thoughtfully and sparingly. Remember that it’s important not to make your child feel guilty about enjoying foods that they love. This way, treats are always a special and exciting occurrence, and your children stay healthy and strong all winter long.

Tips on Making Healthier Versions of Some Holiday Favorites…

  • Add Several healthier options to your menu such as salad and sautéed greens with almonds rather than green bean casserole.
  • Did you know that low-fat Greek yogurt can be a great substitute ingredient in mashed potatoes?
  • When making mashed potatoes, use low-fat skim milk or coconut milk rather than appleswhole milk or half and half. You can even use low-fat Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk. Or you could add some pureed cauliflower to add flavor and fiber to your dish.
  • Remove some of the top crust on the apple pie to reduce calorie and fat intake.
  • Bake cored apples, stuff them with cranberry relish and top them with a dollop of whipped cream for a healthier dessert option.

Healthy Holiday Recipes!

Quinoa and Roasted Yams and Feta-

Dry-brine Roasted Turkey-

PCC Roasted Squash and Apples and Bacon-

Grinch Kabobs-

Oatmeal Cookies with Banana-

Carrot and Yam Soup with Cardamom- 

Apple Dumplings with Cider-Cinnamon Sauce-

Holiday Turkey with Rice Stuffing & Gravy with Fresh Herbs-

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread- bread

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