Seven ways to help your kids avoid holiday weight gain
You hear about the dreaded extra 10 pounds many adults gain this time of year –
but kids can also pack on extra weight.
When you mix large amounts of goodies
and extra calories with time off from school – when kids tend to indulge in
sedentary activities like watching TV and playing video games – you get holiday
“A couple extra cookies or a
specialty beverage during the holidays can quickly add up to extra weight
gain,” said Lindsay Bailey, a registered dietitian in Akron Children’s
Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology. “An extra 500 calories each day
contributes to 1 pound a week.”
Bailey offers parents tips on how to
help their kids enjoy the festivities without packing on the unwanted pounds.
Downsize portions. The more food
that is served on your child’s plate, the more he’ll tend to eat. Keep the
portions small. If he’s still hungry, he can always go back for seconds.
Also, make sure your child is getting
a good balance of food groups – and monitor the portions of each. Bailey
suggests parents follow the MyPlate method to make sure kids are getting the
right variety of food groups. The goal is to make half of the plate fruits and
vegetables, so that way you’re already controlling the amount of grains and
proteins on the plate.
Control the risk for temptation. Though admittedly difficult during the holidays, try not to
stock the home full of sweet treats and sugary drinks. Though there will be
some of these in the house, keep them out of reach and put away in the pantry.
Out of site, out of mind.
“As a parent, we’re protectors of the
home,” said Bailey. “Don’t stock the house with sugary drinks and snacks. Instead
stock up on healthy options to help create healthier habits, so kids will learn
to gravitate toward these items as they grow.”
Put within reach fresh fruit and
veggies washed and cut up, all ready to grab and go. Plus, this time of year,
there are lots of ways you can get creative to make these options more
appealing. Use cookie cutters or art on a plate to create snowmen out of grapes
or cantaloupe Christmas trees.
Start with a healthy breakfast. Research shows kids who start out with a healthy breakfast are
less likely to eat more calories throughout the day. Even if the big holiday
meal is at noon, eating breakfast will help kids so they don’t overeat.
“For a child who has been sleeping
for 10 or 12 hours, a healthy breakfast stops that fast and jump-starts the
metabolism,” said Bailey.
Use healthy substitutes in holiday baking. A favorite holiday pastime is baking together as a family. You
can get creative with the ingredients and substitute healthier options to cut
down on calories.
For a recipe that calls for oil, you
can use unsweetened applesauce instead to make a moist cookie. Or, for recipes
that use flour, substitute half of the amount with whole wheat flour to get an
extra serving of whole grains.
Include more protein and fiber in their diet. Protein and fiber are a powerful combination. Proteins,
including lean meats, low-fat dairy, beans and nuts – and fiber-rich foods,
such as fruits and veggies – help kids
feel fuller longer since they take longer to break down than carbohydrates.
Get kids moving. In the
wintertime, send your kids outdoors to get them off the couch and away from the
video games. Sled riding, hiking or ice skating are great ways to get kids
moving, while still having fun.
If it’s too cold or just better to stay
indoors, Bailey recommends SWORKIT Kids, a free app that’s designed to
make moving fun. The app guides kids through fun exercise routines demonstrated
by kids themselves.
Drink plenty of water. Kids who are actually thirsty or dehydrated may mistakenly
take that for a feeling of hunger. If kids get enough fluids the false hunger
cues won’t occur, and it can help prevent them from overeating at the holiday
“The holidays are really focused on
food,” Baily said. “But if we can refocus on nonfood-related things – such as spending
time with family and friends, and enjoying holiday activities that aren’t food
related – we can distract kids from reaching for one more cookie.”
Link to Inside Children’s blog post: https://inside.akronchildrens.org/2016/12/14/7-ways-to-help-your-kids-avoid-holiday-weight-gain/