Note: This post is part of a 5 part series titled Your Holiday Survival Guide. At the end of this article, you’ll be directed to the next 4 articles.
The most common feedback I get in my community is about unhealthy “treats” the kids receive during the holiday season.
It’s a way to celebrate and to be a part of the magic of the season. Candy canes and sugar cookies are a natural part of the season, aren’t they?
I hope to help you get a jump-start teaching good holiday eating habits to your kids by sharing some holiday eating tips.
My Top 5 Holiday Eating Tips
The good news is that parents can still be celebratory and infuse magic into the season while helping kids to learn intuitive eating habits. Here are five ways to help your kids know the right thing to do.
Holiday Eating Tip #1 – Don’t cut treats out
Let your kids enjoy all the holiday food on special nights or celebration, don’t limit instead have them slow down and actually enjoy the food.
Take the time to ask them how they feel after eating all the food and treats… have them pay attention to the sensation in their body. Help them understand that food as an impact on how they feel.
At home during holiday periods, keep the junk food out of the lunchbox and off the counter, replacing them with other kinds of special things like holiday stickers or special healthy snacks.
Moderation is an essential lesson to teach kids during the holiday season, and one that they’ll carry with them.
Holiday Eating Tip #2 – Offer your attention
What kids want more than anything else is our attention. Instead of treating your child to junk foods, treat them to your time. Make holiday cards together, decorate or go out and enjoy a festival.
The point is to share you with your children because family is what this time of year is all about. This also offers you the opportunity to complete the next step with them!
Maybe plan an afternoon with them to prepare a healthy holiday treat. Have fun in the kitchen with them and take this opportunity to teach them about cooking.
Holiday Eating Tip #3 – Model intuitive habits
Your children will do whatever you do. If you jump and eat all the sugary treats, then they’re going to think that it’s the right thing to do. If you drop off your intuitive habits during the holidays, then they’re going to see that as something that’s supposed to happen.
It’s not what we say rather what we do that makes an impact.
Kids, no matter age, hold their parents up as an example of the right way to be. They’re looking to you as a role model. Perhaps take this opportunity as motivation for you to stay on top of it yourself.
Holiday Eating Tip #4 – Talk about it
Be open and honest with your kids about the ramifications of food choices and the benefits of intuitive habits – no matter what their age. Talk about how good it makes you feel when you eat well and stay active.
It’s important that this conversation doesn’t happen when you’re confronted with temptations, but rather that it’s a conversation that is woven into your everyday life together. This will help them to stay on the path when they’re faced with the possibility of unhealthy choices.
Holiday Eating Tip #5 – Simmer in the season
The joy of the holiday season doesn’t come from cookies or candy – it comes from something so much more! Celebrate the season in ways that don’t involve food. Make memories for your children that will last for a lifetime but that won’t instill habits that will take them away from good health. Don’t see healthy habits as limiting your ability to participate in the magic, but rather as opening new doors to take part in the sparkle of the season!
I hope you will find my healthy holiday eating tips helpful. However, remember that the most important thing is to make the holidays a positive and memorable time for your children, and for you.
Long after the sweet treats are gone, your children will remember how you made them feel during the holiday season, and that’s really all that matters!
Teaching your children a healthy relationship to food is an ongoing practice all year long. My colleague and children intuitive eating expert Dr. Murphy has written a series on this exact topic along with a free audio series that you can access right here.
Next: The Holiday Survival Guide
This post is part of a 5 part series titled Your Holiday Survival Guide. Continue your journey and take the next step in reading:
The critical importance of self-care during the holiday period
How to navigate the holiday parties and enjoy it!
Must do during the holiday: Stress Management and dealing with negative family members