The holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones and food is an undeniable part of our holiday traditions. Food is one of the great enjoyments in life and the pleasurable and fun aspect to food is never more apparent than around the holidays. Although eating for health and eating for pleasure do not have to be mutually exclusive, it is impossible and unrealistic to expect your child to eat healthily all the time.
Using the 80-20 rule can help to balance a child’s nutritional needs with their social needs. Try having children eat healthily 80 percent of the time and let them indulge 20 percent of the time. Unless a child is ill, this breakdown will still ensure health and wellness. If a child eats wholesome foods most of the time, the nutrition they receive will allow them to have anti-nutrient foods on occasion without upsetting their body’s systems. Healthier systems will have the strength and capacity to quickly recognize and eliminate sugary treats and chemicals.
Although they may be indulging in treats during the holidays and special occasions, ensuring that children are still getting optimal nutrients is essential. Treats should be in addition to high nutrient foods; never replacing them. If a child is ill, special considerations should be made to limit their intake of sugar and preservatives until they are well. Sugar can actually lower immunity and resistance to illness by lowering white blood cell response. So until they are well, try indulging a sweet tooth with lots of fresh fruit.
Another way to help balance out days that a child has over indulged in low nutrient foods is to add a nutritional fortifier into their day. A product called greens+kids contains an organic mixture of over 25 fruits and vegetables. This berry flavoured powder is a very effective way to give children the nutritional value of whole foods. On poor diet days a double serving will help give added protection.
When entertaining at home there are many healthy sweet snacks that cannot only be a fun treat but also provide some important nutrients.
- Baked nachos or chips dipped into salsa
- Naturally sweetened yogurt
- Soy ice cream
- Dried apricot and apples
- Naturally sweetened applesauce
- Veggies and dip such as guacamole or hummus
- Healthy trail mix of raw seeds, nuts and raisins
- Fresh fruit tray
- Homemade cookies sweetened with applesauce
The importance of optimal nutrition should not be down played especially during the holidays. However, neither should relationships and socialization that comes from being a part of celebrations with family and friends. Encourage your child to eat a consistent diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lots of water when at home and at school and feel confident knowing that a treat during the holidays will not upset their well- balanced development.