Q: The holidays are coming. Do I need to ban treats for my kids?
A: No! But these tips will help your family find balance during holiday festivities.
Every year, October rolls around bringing with it candy corn and peanut butter cups. This then transitions into a season of pumpkin and pecan pies followed by holiday cookies. It is possible to let children enjoy the treats of the season while still maintaining their health, wellness and balance. These practical tips for a healthy holiday season can help you navigate this season of kids and treats.
As a personal trainer and nutrition counselor, I witness the struggles of clients to find balance with candy, sugar and treats during the last three months of the year. “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply during this season, with the appearance of candy and sugary treats at the office, school, on grocery store shelves and at parties.
It might be tempting to ban all treats to make things easier, but total abstinence from treats is not an ideal solution. Research shows that when parents forbid foods from kids, it makes them want the food more and makes them more likely to eat the banned food when the parent is not around. Plus, a critical part of learning to eat healthy is learning the decision-making and self-regulation skills that come with choosing what to eat. Treats are a part of a healthy diet, the trick is learning how to enjoy them in moderation and balance.
Here are some tactics to get through the end of the year sugar-rush in the happiest, healthiest way possible. These tips apply to both children and adults, so store them away for yourself too!
8 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season
Increase satiety levels at meals. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner chock full of protein and healthy fats. If you feel satisfied after mealtimes, you’ll feel fewer cravings for sugary sweets. Fuel up on delicious foods like eggs, avocado, chicken, salmon, almonds and walnuts.
Reduce juice consumption. Reducing juice consumption during this season will allow for extra wiggle room when it comes to candy and treats. For example: on the day of a Halloween party, swap out juice for water. (I’ve written about kids + juice on the Nomster blog before, check that post out here)
HYDRATION. Water intake is critical for keeping hunger and sugar cravings at bay. Keeping children hydrated with water will prevent them from craving sugary treats and candy.
Don’t open bags of Halloween candy until Halloween. Save it for the trick or treaters. If you find candy and treats popping up everywhere outside of the house, maintain a low-sugar household by not having open bags or bowls of candy in the house until the day of Halloween.
Halloween Candy Swap. Oftentimes, children are more excited by the idea, act and thrill of trick-or-treating, versus actually eating the candy. Consider allowing children to enjoy their candy for a day or two after Halloween, then ask them if they would like to trade out their candy for a new toy.
Mindful eating at holiday parties. It is very easy to grab cookies and cupcakes at parties and eat them mindlessly. Instead, pick the treat that looks the most appetizing, special and unique and place it on a plate. For baked goods like cupcakes and cake, eat them with a fork. Mindful eating at holiday parties prevents overconsumption of sugar.
Move more! October, November and December may be chock full of candy, pies and cookies, but the fall months are also perfect for outdoor sports, family hikes, family walks and outdoor recreational activities. The body uses glucose as its primary source of energy, so if the treat intake is higher, use that sugar for energy!
Sugar Cut-Off Time. Avoid consuming sugar too close to bedtime. I recommend not consuming sugar within two hours of bedtime. Sugar too close to bedtime increases fat storage during sleep. In addition to promoting fat storage, sugar too close to bedtime may affect quality of sleep.
Thinking about kids and treats this time of year can be a stressor for many parents. But if you’re able to implement these tips for a healthy holiday season, you and your family can maintain balance and wellness through the new year.
Happy Halloween and holidays, Nomsters!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daphnie Yang is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer/Certified Nutritional Counselor and believes eating nutritious can be delicious. She goes nuts for nuts and bananas for bananas. She also believes in eating the rainbow, making every plate as colorful and tasty as possible with vibrant fruits and veggies.