Healthier Holidays Q&A
The holidays are meant to be a time to spend time with family, and of course, indulge in comfort foods. Unfortunately, many of our favorite holiday foods are high in calories, sugar, and don’t contain good nutrition. Kaitlin Cushman, in-house nutritionist at Healthy Height, is here to answer common questions and share tips that the whole family can use to help your family be a bit healthier this holiday season.
How can families eat healthy during the holidays?
- Limit snacking before and between meals to avoid overeating and the additional calories. If you snack or indulge in appetizers, go for the raw veggies & dip or other vegetable-based items, like stuffed peppers or mushrooms.
- Leave more room for the day’s caloric intake by avoiding high-calorie beverages. Choose water over eggnog, soda, juice, cider, or alcoholic beverages when possible.
- Make sure your dinner plate is at least half vegetables – whether it be roasted veggies, baked potato or yams, or salad. Try not to go for a second plate!
- It is unrealistic to eliminate dessert completely (you may spur a mutiny at the kids' table). Let your children choose just one dessert of their choice in an appropriate serving size. Alternatively, you can offer a fun fruit salad with whipped cream or supply them with protein-powder based treats, like energy balls or protein cookies.
What foods should kids avoid?
Just like the rest of the year, we want to avoid energy-dense foods than are deficient in nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Since you probably won’t convince the kids to only eat the turkey and vegetables, just be sure to portion control the following holiday classics such as:
- Deep-fried turkey or anything fried in general
- Bread-heavy stuffing
- Baked goods (i.e. cookies, pie, cake)
- Heavily sauced items like casseroles, creamed corn and mashed potatoes with gravy
- Canned cranberry sauce
- White bread type dinner rolls
What are some simple swaps families can make to still indulge in all the tasty holiday foods?
To improve your family’s diet at the holiday table, there are some ingredient and dish swaps you can make so you can indulgence without guilt. Here are some tips to help you and the kids:
- Choose turkey over ham to avoid the sugary glazes and processed ingredient in cured meats
- Try making a low-carb stuffing using ingredients like celery, cauliflower, apples, veggies, sweet potatoes, and nuts.
- Steam or roast vegetables instead of creaming, mashing, or adding to a casserole
- Make cranberry sauce from whole cranberries – they are still sugary but less processed
- If you have bread on the table, choose a higher fiber option like whole wheat rolls.
What are some of the tastiest, healthy recipes for kids that they won't know are "healthy"?
Healthy doesn’t have to mean lacking fun or flavor! Here are some healthy and kid-friendly recipes you can make at the holidays:
- These Spider Energy Balls taste like a candy bar but the kiddos will never know the difference! Plus they are super fun to make together for Halloween night.
- This allergy-friendly Chocolate Pumpkin Dip is a crowd-pleaser among both kids and adults – and no one will even know it’s good for them!
- Christmas morning will be both tasty and healthy with these protein-packed Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes! Nutrient-packed and picky eater approved, the kiddos will gobble these up.
Nutrition to Help Kids Grow - and Sleep!
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