Coming up to Christmas we know that there will be lots of extra festive treats available so it is a great idea to help our children manage treats at Christmas. We can remind our kids beforehand to save up for Christmas; that is have some days without any treats beforehand and also after Christmas we can do the same.
Even though it is the season of Christmas, serve lots of what I call ‘growing foods’. These are the foods that help kids grow and are the building blocks or fuel for our bodies, for example, foods that help us run faster. Talk to our kids and tell them that we eat growing foods most often, such as fruit and vegetables and treats less often.
Breakfast is a great time to offer lots of ‘growing foods’ as children are usually the most hungry in the morning after fasting all night. Serve, for example, a high-fibre cereal that is low in sugar with some fruit or a protein food like eggs with wholemeal bread and some veggies such as cut up raw peppers, beans or leftover roasted veggies.
We can plan for shopping and have healthier alternatives readily available such as popcorn and fresh fruit which are popular with many kids. It helps if fresh fruit is prepared ahead so it’s ready to be eaten such as removing the skin of oranges and separating them into segments. Likewise bring some healthier alternatives with us when we’re out and about or bring to events like neighbours’ parties.
We can make some homemade treats and in this way we can control exactly what goes into the recipe or use reduced sugar recipes so our children have a healthier Christmas.
We can get children involved with helping to make homemade treats. Even young children from the age of 2 or 3 can help with age-appropriate tasks such as helping to sorting ingredients. Four to six year olds can help with counting or weighing ingredients. Seven to twelve year olds can help with reading and following recipes.
Another quick and easy way to get kids involved is to offer them choices around treats. Let your kids decide when they will have their treat such as “now or later”. Young children will usually always choose “now”. Yet it is still valuable to give them this sense of control. If they choose ‘now’ and then look for another treat later, remind them that they already had their treat earlier.
We can be mindful of portion sizes as kids have small tummies that can fill up quickly. Serve foods in small containers, for example, take out some jellies out of a big pack and place them in a small bowl.
We can tell your kids specifically when they’ll have a treat again, for example, with a snack tomorrow. This helps to provide more certainty around treats so that kids don’t feel pressure to eat as much as they when they have access to treats.
When there is lots of food available at one time such as a buffet it doesn’t mean we have to eat everything. Instead ask your kid to prioritise one of more of their favourites from the choices available and enjoy these.
Lastly, Christmas is much more than just about food so focus on other aspects of the joyful season such as Christmas songs, playing board games and being active together such as ice skating.
These top tips to manage Christmas treats will hopefully ensure a happy, healthy Christmas.
This originally appeared on Rollercoaster.ie and image courtesy of Rollercoaster.ie