Keeping your kids healthy this holiday season

December has arrived and the Christmas holiday celebrations are underway! Keeping your family and kids healthy doesn’t mean missing out on the festive fun. Brisbane Nutritionist Casey-Lee Lyons from Live Love Nourish shares her tips on how to inspire your kids to stay healthy these holidays whilst enjoying the festivities of Christmas.

This article was written for Kids Health Australia.

Here are our top 20 tips to staying on track to a nourished you:

1. Get the kids involved in holiday cooking. Some great safe activities they might enjoy include mashing avocado, stirring, pouring, mixing, whisking, rolling balls (such as shaping meatballs/rissoles) or shape dough, using a rolling pin, icing treats, mixing salad, using measuring cups or wooden spoons, incorporating a timer and washing fruit and veg.

2. Kids love holiday “fun foods” such as fruit kebabs, healthy jelly gummies, mini muffins, dips like hummus or guacamole, mini meatballs, homemade baked sweet potato chips, smoothies, healthy pancakes, home-made chicken nuggets, popsicles etc which can all be made healthy and sugar free.

3. Watch out for refined sugar. Particularly around Christmas time all of the lollies, chocolate and sweet treats are so readily available. Have healthier, naturally sweet options available instead such as fresh fruit and homemade refined sugar free treats. Find healthy refined sugar free recipes here.

4. Avoid packaged food. Packaged and processed food is where you will find lots of hidden sugars and preservatives which can really affect your kids behaviour and health.

5. Think 'healthy' holiday snacks. Hummus and vegetable sticks, guacamole and healthy crackers, fruit platters, mixed nuts or homemade healthy treats. Find lots of healthy kid-friendly recipes here.

6. Create fruit art making shapes, faces or patterns with cut up fruit. Make fruit santas, fruit presents and watermelon Christmas trees. Find out how to make these here.

7. Cut fruit into fun shapes using a cookie cutter.

8. Plate healthy food into fun pictures such as Christmas trees or faces.

9. Show them photos of healthy Christmas recipes and have them help choose your family’s holiday menu.

10. Keep your fridge and pantry filled with fresh and healthy choices that will encourage you to make nourishing meals and snacks.

11. Have healthy food insight and reachable so healthy options become preferred and accessible. Kids tend to be more likely to choose food if they can see it and is within reach.

12. Give fun and healthy children's gifts instead of candy canes, chocolate and lollies such as bubble blowers, stickers, glow sticks, bouncy balls, yo-yo’s, slinkys or homemade Christmas tree decorations.

13. Keep you kids nourished with unprocessed ingredients including good quality protein (such as eggs, chicken or fish), unrefined carbohydrate sources (such as sweet potato or quinoa) and healthy fats (such as olive oil and avocado).

14. What do you do if your child has received too many candy canes, chocolates or lollies from their friends? A good old Swap! Get them to collect their gifts and for each candy cane or sugary treat swap them for a healthier edible or non-edible treat that you know they will enjoy. Such as stickers, silver coins, small toys or even something special they have had their eye on. You can use the uneaten candy-canes as Christmas tree decorations.

15. Offer healthy options to choose from so they feel empowered to make their own independent choice at the same time as reaching for something healthy.

16. Let kids help set the Christmas table; fold napkins, arrange placemats and decorate.

17. Ignite their senses with festive flavours. Get them to smell festive herbs and spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg), taste flavours, feel produce, pick up ingredients etc.

18. Try out new (and healthy) recipes. Holidays are a perfect time for this. You can find lots of healthy and simple recipes here.

19. Keep your routine! Try to stick to your usual meal and snack time routine especially in the party season. Keeping young bodies nourished and satisfied on whole and healthy food helps minimise their amount of ‘treat’ food and keeps their energy levels and mood balanced.

20. Get active. Keep your kids active with outdoor games. Family outdoor activities such as bush walks, backyard cricket or soccer, swimming at the beach or playing in the park with your children.

21. Stay hydrated! Have your child’s water bottle in reach to make sure they keep hydrated with plenty of water.

22. Provide nutrient-rich nibbles and snacks. Skip the high calorie, low-nutrients snacks like chocolate, chips, cakes and pastures and instead opt for snacks that are loaded with goodness.

23. Be a good role model for your kids. Kids notice, copy and respond to our adult behaviours more than we probably realise so providing them with a great reflection of nourishing our own body with healthy food is important.

This article was written by nutritionist Casey-Lee Lyons © Live Love Nourish™ 2016. All rights reserved.

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