Happy ChrismaHannuKwanzikah to you and your family this holiday season!
It’s a delicious time of year for family gatherings, presents and the laughter and joy of children everywhere. As a pediatrician and a mother, I absolutely LOVE this time of year!
Each day in my office from Halloween until the New Year, parents ask for both nutritional and parenting ideas about how to enjoy the wonderful excess of the season, while trying to keep the year-round healthy habits we’ve all worked so hard to maintain with our children. That being said, I must also unabashedly say that I am the type of pediatrician who truly wants children to enjoy this time of year and find a beautiful compromise!
Treats are a memorable part of childhood and, everyday, I give organic lollipops after my vaccinations and physical exams to make the visit more “child friendly” and productive.
Here are a few common sense ideas to enjoy the season in a healthy but fun manner!
- During the holidays,foods are regularly high in calories but fairly low in nutrition (which is why they taste so lovely). Try to add more fruits and veges during your lunch and breakfast meals so they can be a bit spoiled during the parties and events. My daughter loves honey more than frosting now and actually chose blueberries to top her birthday cupcakes as decorations, but with sprinkles of course…
- Always choose water during party events (and all year if possible) instead of juice boxes which are overly present so that your child can enjoy the extra treats.
- When it’s cold outside, children stay indoors more than usual depending on where you live, and are often in front of the computer or TV – therefore, choose gifts like video games or DVDs that make your kids jump up and down, not sitting on the couch! So many digital games today promote good physical activity and first select other non DVD games like indoor basketball, dancing, jump rope or football. Grandparents are always asking for gift ideas!
- Find a way to bundle up and play outside, especially in the snow.
- Part of the holiday excitement is staying up late… but some children don’t do well being off their typical schedule so you might try starting the holiday bedtime ritual an hour early, (if they are young enough where they can’t tell time yet!), so the kids will be in good form for the next exciting day.
- So many parents fill holiday stockings with candy- so try tiny gifts with special notes from one parent to a child about how much you love them or a picture or a drawing that you drew for them this time!
- For older children, involve them in holiday baking and teach them how to make small changes in their favorite foods to make them healthier- less sugar, more skim milk and egg whites.
But most importantly, enjoy yourself like crazy! It is but once a year and your kids look forward to it too! Stay healthy and have fun!
Best to you all,
Dr. TJ Gold