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Five tips for a healthy holiday

Try these tips to help your family stay healthy this holiday season.

By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

During the holidays there is inevitably more sugar and calories tempting our palates. Try these tips to avoid the bellyaches and extra pounds, and keep your family healthy this holiday season.

1. Cut sugar and fat - but still enjoy the holidays

Cut down on the sugar and fat by altering your recipes and what you eat.

  • Use half the sugar the recipe calls for or use a healthier alternative such as honey, maple syrup or agave nectar.
  • Swap applesauce or prune juice for oil or butter.
  • Use an egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Try low-fat or non-fat milk products instead of whole milk products.
  • Use plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream.
  • Serve fat-free sorbet instead of ice cream.
  • Drink water instead of sugary juices and soft drinks.
  • Make sure you offer your children fresh fruits and vegetables. Make fruit kebabs and serve vegetables with a light dip.
  • If you are going to a holiday meal offer to bring something and make it a healthy dish.
  • For a list of more substitutions check out Ingredient substitutions: Make the switch for healthier recipes from the Mayo Clinic.

2. Keep portion sizes healthy

If you are hosting a meal try to avoid a buffet, this can lead to overeating. Instead serve healthy portion sizes. Try the trick of using smaller plates, this helps keep the portion size down. Suggest that your family wait 10 to 15 minutes before getting seconds. They will soon realize that they are fuller than they thought. If you are at a hosted buffet suggest that your family look at all the food first and then take small portions of what they want. Encourage them not to hover around the buffet which can lead to nibbling food and eating more than intended.

3. Don't arrive hungry

"Don't eat now. You'll spoil your dinner." Does this phrase sound familiar? The truth is eating a healthy snack before a meal can help you eat less. So plan on having a nutritious snack before a holiday party and your family will be less likely to arrive starving and fill up on unhealthy snacks and sweets.

4. Allow for some indulgences

Let's be realistic. You don't have to avoid all the treats. And good luck, if you tell your children they can't have any sweets! Give yourself and your children an allowance window. Allow for small portions of your favorite holiday indulgences. Balance and moderation is the key.

5. Maintain fitness

Encourage your family to maintain daily exercise. Even 10 minutes here and there can do the trick. When going to the mall or grandma's house, park farther away to allow for a short walk. Enjoy the outdoors by bundling up and going for a hike. Your family could go skating, play Frisbee or go sledding. If the weather doesn't permit take fitness indoors.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/26/2007:
"These were great tips to help us through the holidays. Keep up the good work!"
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