12 tips to help your Kids eat nutritiously during the holidays

1/ Assess your year-round eating habits.  Enjoying decadent foods during the holidays is not a problem if you usually eat well. However, if the high-fat, salty, sugary holiday foods are the same items that appear on your plate every day, it is time to rethink your overall diet.

2/ Be a good role model – Show your children how to make healthy food choices. They get their cues for what and how much to eat from your behaviour. If you make a point of putting lots of vegetables on your plate, so will your offspring, and if you take only one dessert, they’ll follow.

3/ Make new food traditions – Not all memories of holiday eating have to include indulgent foods. Maybe your kids will crate your cranberry-studded quinoa or your famous roast turkey.

4/ Cut back on sodium – If you are concerned that Grandma’s traditional stuffing recipe is excessively salty, tweak it. Play with herbs and spices to re-create holiday classics that your children can embrace. Kids under age of nine should aim for no more that 1200 milligrams of sodium a day, but most get double that amount. Think twice before cooking with soy sauce, broth and other salty flavor enhancers.

5/ Bring a safety dish – If you are heading to a family dinner, offer to contribute on e of the menu items so you can prepare a healthy dish you know your children enjoy. That way, if the other options are not to their liking, the whining will be minimal as they will be guaranteed one (nutritious) dish they like.

6/ Avoid forcing foods – If it’s a struggle to get your children to eat vegetables on the best of days, imposing our rules at a party is not a good idea. Radishes and celery cannot compete with the dessert their cousins are enjoying across the table.

7/ Stress the importance of small indulgences – Forget about the idea of off-limits foods during the holidays. Instead, explain to your children that foods made with lots of butter, sale and sugar can be eaten – but infrequently and in small quantities. The will still get to enjoy all of their holiday favorites, but will learn they don’t have to overeat in order to enjoy the flavor.

8/ Plan ahead – If you know dinner will be huge, rich meal, serve a healthier lunch and offer fruit and vegetables as snacks. This will help ensure that everyone gets the vitamins and minerals they need throughout the day, and that they don’t go overboard with fat and sodium.

9/ Bake better – Kids smile at the sight of cakes and cookies baking in the oven. By making small tweaks, you can create desserts that are delicious and nutritious. Bake with heart-healthy oil instead of lard or butter. Or try replacing half the fat in recipes with applesauce. Choose recipes that call for oats, whole grain four, fruit, nuts and seeds.

10/ Don’t rely on salty chips and pretzels as snacks – Instead try vegetables, and yogurt dip, clementines, sliced fruit, mixed unsalted nuts or air-popped popcorn. All of these snacks count as healthy options in Canada’s Food Guide.

11. Make more meals from scratch – Instead of relying on processed foods, impress your guests with homemade dishes. Since 77 percent of the sodium in the average diet comes from prepackaged foods, you will be doing your loved ones a favor by cooking foods that are healthier. A high sodium intake can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure for both children and adults.

12/ Sip smartly – The beverages you drink should be part of your healthy eating equation. Remember that a can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, while one cup of vegetable cocktail contains over 600 milligrams of sodium (about half of the limit we should aim for in an entire day!) Choose water or sparkling water so your calories come from food, not drinks. Jazz up water with some berries, a squeeze of lemon or a dash of juice.

If you can’t avoid an indulgent meal, remember that it’s just one meal. You will eat better tomorrow. Enjoy the holidays and all of the delicious joys that come along with them.

Source – Canadian Living -December 2012