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Healthy Holiday Family Plan

Holiday FoodThe holidays are a joyous time, however they can also contribute to unhealthy eating habits. It begins in October with the Halloween candy and never-ending sweets, followed by the rich holiday comfort foods. Come January, we attempt to enforce a strict New Year’s resolution, which finally results in a mental and physical rebellion – a pattern known too well by many of us.

This annual scuffle occurs not only with adults, it affects the nutrition of our families as well. Most parents would go to great lengths to maintain their children’s health, especially during this flu season. One surefire way to keep our families healthy is to put an end to this scary cycle once and for all.

Many parents do not realize the damage that can occur to their children’s metabolism as a result of poor habits. Their resilient bodies are usually able to bounce back from the extreme highs and lows in blood sugar, however these long-term metabolic fluctuations can lead to diabetes, obesity, mood and sleep disorders, attention deficit, and skin problems. What’s more, these poor habits become ingrained in children’s behavior, impacting their well being forever. As a Registered Dietitian, I believe the best way to handle the holidays is through open communication and planning, which translates to family meetings.

A good start would be to meet with your spouse in the beginning of the holiday season. Jot down some potential New Year’s resolutions for yourselves and the family. If you are a single parent or need help with this process, it is a good idea to set up a consultation with a nutritionist. When you have your goals in mind, plan a family meeting.

Depending on your children’s age, it might be appropriate to talk to them about their health goals, New Year’s resolutions, and come up with a plan or house rules. If your kids are close-minded towards your plan, remember that you are in charge and explain to your kids that your decisions will positively affect their health and future. An effective tool is by enticing your children with fun non-food related rewards. The open communication within your family will also promote accountability for your healthy lifestyle changes for the New Year.

Fortunately, we will never escape all the sweets and unhealthy foods at parties, work, and stores from Halloween through Valentine’s Day (we need a little sweetness in our lives). However, the one area where you have the most control is your household. If you can set a few health goals early in the season and communicate them with your family, it becomes easier to maintain health at home and make better decisions when out.

We are proud to announce that this article will be in the next California Coast Parent Magazine!

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