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3 Tips for Healthier Holidays for Kids

Autumn is the Founder and CEO of HopeWella Nutrition in Los Angeles, California. Featured in publications, podcasts and documentaries, such as Eat Play Diet, she is well-known in and around Southern California as a nutritional specialist in the areas if Digestive Health, Hormone Balance, Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Nutritional Genetics and Metabolic Health.

Kids love sweetness…especially at the holidays! Healthy eating between October and December can be a tough time of year. I know all my daughter sees everywhere is treats!

Christmas time is full of making memories and nostalgia. Whether it is hot chocolate, candy canes, or Christmas dinner, our memories are wrapped up in food and treats. Even for a nutritionist it is hard to avoid those GF gingerbread pancakes. Just saying.

As a parent trying to keep our kids healthy for their growth and navigating the holiday season, don’t despair.

1. Space out the treats

Try not to give them too many in one day, and try to space them out every few days if you can. I try to keep sugar grams down, but I don’t mind if my daughter has one or two small Hershey’s kisses per day. That’s about 4g of sugar and hits the spot.

Of course other things like cookies are going to happen! If you’re making them at home add in a few drops of liquid stevia or some xylitol or erythritol and add less sugar to the recipe. You’ll be surprised that the cookies don’t taste that different. I’ve simply cut out the sugar by 1/3-1/2 and honestly didn’t notice that much of a difference. That will bring the sugar grams per cookie down without making your kids feel like they aren’t getting a treat! Too much sugar can also impact the immune system…you wonder why so many people get sick come January!

2. Balance Other Meals and Snacks

Make sure that what you’re giving them outside of the treats is healthy. Serve a variety of veggies and a little fruit with quality protein sources and healthy whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and buckwheat. Beans are a great nutrient dense and high fiber food to mix in there too. Giving too many treats plus too many processed foods (that probably also have sugar) is going to tip the nutrient scale in a way you don’t want it to. We want to support their little systems with nutrient dense food between the treats until we get through the holidays.

3. Keep Kids Moving

Winter can often be a time of decreased exercise with wanting to stay out of the cold. Finding some indoor activities near by or bundling up and taking a walk if it’s safe will help them use some of the excess calories taken in this time of year. Plus, we could use the extra movement too! Exercise is good for some much aside from burning calories: keep the inflammation down, stimulate the brain, etc. During the winter break…keep ’em moving!

It’s important for kids that we don’t continue this way of eating throughout the rest of the year to make sure that we aren’t upregulating inflammatory pathways, causing blood sugar imbalances, or giving them more energy via calories than they will use. The holidays are a special time, but if we allow it to continue special treats become habits. It’s also important not to totally overdo it. Make a plan for January to wean off the treats and get back to normal. Enjoy it while it lasts!

If you know you’re going to want more help getting back on track, I’m always here. Want to know if Functional Medicine is a good fit for you? Sign up today for a free 15 minute consultation with me over the phone to talk about it.
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