Healthy Holiday Eating Guide for Kids

Holiday stress stats show that almost 70% of Americans feel short on time during the often chaotic, celebratory end-of-year stretch. And when we are rushed, stressed, and busy, our health—oral and overall—seems to be the first casualty. As parents, what are you doing to ensure your kids’ health is protected as they deck the halls this year?

Get ahead before the festivities ramp up and schedules get crazy and make a plan now. Set aside a few minutes to intentionally form a healthy eating plan that will keep your kids’ energy levels stable, their oral health on point, and their immune systems in check. Use these fun and doable tips to sketch out a plan.

Get creative. Studies show that kids eat twice as much fruit if it is presented to them in an appealing way. In other words, make it look good. Don’t simply cut up an apple and expect them to gobble down every slice. Go the extra mile to create fruit kabobs, or melon cut-outs with cookie cutters. Children will find joy in the creating and take pride in the eating.

Simple suggestion: If nothing else, always have a bowl of fruit accessible, especially for older kids. Scientists believe that seeing food increases the chances we will eat it. So, keep the cookies out of sight while making the fruit easy to grab.

Make it a game. Kids love a project, and by giving them a job, you’ll make them feel important while distracting them from what you’re really trying to do: ensure they eat a nutritious diet. Tell your kids that the assignment is to track the colors of the food they eat each day. They can design their own chart or print out this one. Tell them that the goal is to eat 4 different colors a day. Extra colors earn extra points.

Simple suggestion: Remember that eating a variety of colorful foods is key to boosting maximum nutrition, so do your family a favor and plan your shopping list accordingly. A colorful diet requires some intentional planning. That’s your job.

Redefine dessert. The secret to successfully changing up dessert is to do this without the kids knowing. If done right, they’ll love your new desserts and never miss, or even notice, the lack of refined sugar. Cleverly substitute homemade fruit smoothies (frozen fruit, a banana, and milk) for ice cream. Warm apples in a pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle strawberries with dark chocolate. The options are endless.

Simple suggestion: The trick to serving fruit for dessert with ease is having it on hand all the time. This removes half the hassle, making it a new easy habit. Every time you grocery shop, make the produce section your first stop.

Drafting a nutritious eating plan now will not only benefit your family’s health this season but also give you a head start before the new year begins. Take a few minutes. Your family will thank you.

Happy holidays! And happy healthy eating! Dr. Vakili and team