Pumpkin pie. Sugar cookies. Apple pie. Your typical desserts might be different, but it’s hard to ignore – the holiday season is full of sweets. No matter how tempting they might be for us adults, it can be even harder for our kids. Enter a major problem for many families: how can we make sure our kids eat the actual meal, vs. just eating sweets, during the holidays?
I will admit this could be my first major holiday with this issue. Last year, my daughter had just turned one during the holiday season and had not yet shown a preference for sweets over other foods. Now she is very aware and has found a love – chocolate chip cookies! Take heart, fellow readers; I’ll be right there in the trenches with you.
• Let them help plan the menu and prepare foods– in an age-appropriate way, of course. This helps your kids feel ownership over the meal and get excited when it is time to eat the food items they selected or prepared! While my daughter cannot help plan a menu yet, I know that she loves green beans, and I plan to incorporate them into the main meal. Are you about what are age-appropriate kitchen tasks for your kids? While every kid is different, a good set of guidelines to get you started can be found here.
• Keep sweets and desserts off of the buffet line. What’s easier than all-day access? If the sugar cookies and brownies are located on the snack table before the meal, all of us – kids included! – are more likely to keep snacking. Full bellies of sweets are less likely to eat their holiday meals. Keep the snacks off to the side to enjoy after the meal.
• Stay active together as a family! If the outside temperature isn’t too awful, aim to take a family walk after to burn off some of that meal. If it’s too cold outside, try some active games inside such as Simon Says, Hide & Seek, or sports and dance games if you have a game system at home.
These three tips can definitely help you get started with a game plan for the holiday meals and events – what other ideas do you have to limit the sweets? Let us know in the comments!
Beth Peralta has lived in Champaign-Urbana since 1998, minus a few summers and nine months in grad school. She is a mother to Natalie, wife to Andrew, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and an active community volunteer with the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana. Free time is spent getting back into running after baby, trying new recipes, and checking out things to do in CU with her family.