Cookies, candies, cakes and more! Plum pudding, roast turkey and treats galore! Trying to prevent childhood obesity during the holidays becomes quite a chore!
Okay, bad poetry aside, this is by far the roughest time of the year to prevent childhood obesity. Some would say Halloween is the hardest, but honestly, that’s just one day. The holidays last more than a month. That’s over 30 days from Thanksgiving to New Years in which you have to find a way to moderate all those goodies without being the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas Candy.” Fortunately, we’re here with tips to help prevent childhood obesity during the holidays by keeping your kids from overindulging.
Keep kids from binging on sweets during the holidays to prevent childhood obesity
First, let’s take a moment to look at WHY it’s important to keep kids from overeating during the holidays to prevent childhood obesity. It takes about 3 weeks to form a bad habit. While this estimate is based more on experience than actual clinical trials, according to How Stuff Works, it is pretty much the accepted time frame to form a new habit. So if you’re letting your child eat out of control for just those 30 days, you’re setting him up for a struggle after the New Year. Then there is the sheer amount of calories a kid can consume during holiday binging. A cookie here, a cake there, the calories really add up!
Tips to keep kids from overeating during the holidays
- Don’t put a ban on all sweets. I know I stressed the importance of not letting kids binge but you also can’t go to the other extreme. I guarantee you that your child will find a way to get her hands on some goodies. When she does, she’s going to sneak as many of them as possible before you catch on.
- Do set ground rules in advance! Heading to a holiday party with dozens of desserts? Tell your child ahead of time that he is limited to X amount of sweets. Don’t spring it on him when he’s in the middle of piling goodies on his plate. Instead, give him the rules before the party so he can scope out the goodies and make his selection ahead of time.
- Reduce holiday stress. Kids tend to overeat when they’re stressed out. Stress and childhood obesity are strongly linked, so don’t overwhelm your kids! Keep holiday activities to a fun amount rather than booking something for every spare moment. Don’t drag them shopping with you if you can avoid it. Strive for fun, not perfection when decorating. Anything you can do to reduce stress helps!
- Fill up with the good stuff before you go near the sweets. If you know your child will be faced with temptation, don’t leave enough room in her belly to overdo it. Have a big healthy lunch before going to a cookie-baking party. Serve a filling soup recipe, like our Roasted Pumpkin Soup, before you head out the door for a holiday party. Then, when you get there, your child won’t be so tempted to fill up on all the goodies.
- Make the baking the main event. Get your kids involved in baking the goodies! Grab our easy Christmas cookie recipes for kids and make it a family activity. Have fun with it! Then help your child package the cookies up in pretty decorative boxes and take them to friends and neighbors. Keep just a few at home to savor the memory of your bonding time.
- Stay active! The best way to prevent childhood obesity during the holidays and any time of the year is to keep your child active. If it snows in your area, head outside for a day of sledding! Build a snow fort! Go ice-skating. Just get them moving!
Letting kids enjoy goodies in moderation is key if you want to prevent childhood obesity. Put the focus on all the other wonderful things about holidays. The time together, the fun Christmas crafts for kids, the lights, music and wonderful feelings that they bring are far more important than the food on a plate.