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Ho, Ho, Ho-ly Overeating: Help Your Family Eat Smart This Holiday Season

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The holidays are filled with tasty treats and busy schedules. As your family goes from one festivity to the next, Helen Seagle, Registered Dietitian at The Children’s Hospital, offers these tips for healthy eating.

1) Plan ahead – Instead of relying on fast food between school and office events, pack healthy foods ahead of time, like sandwiches, fruits or carrot sticks. When you arrive home, have something waiting in a crock pot or already prepared to heat up and eat for dinner.

2) Bring something different – If your child’s classroom is having a party or your family is going to a potluck, bring something unique to your family. “My family is from New Zealand, so I always send sliced kiwi to my kids’ school parties,” says Seagle. The fruit has a story for her kids to share and is a healthy option for their classmates. Seagle also reminds us that potlucks tend to lack assortment, so a colorful vegetable or fruit tray is usually a welcomed addition.

3) Choose healthy dips – Children and adults love dips with foods. Instead of reaching for the ranch dressing or sour cream, encourage kids to try healthier alternatives, such as hummus, salsa or yogurt dip.

4) Solve the leftover dilemma – A large holiday meal usually leaves a hefty amount of leftovers. While mashed potatoes and cheesecake are okay to eat during the holiday meal, it’s not a good idea to continue eating them for several days afterward. Seagle suggests deciding ahead of time whether to freeze leftovers or send them home with guests.

5) Avoid side-dish shockers – Side dishes are usually the heavy hitters during the holidays. Keep portions smaller, especially the sides, to cut down calories and still enjoy the variety. For example, if the serving size for mashed potatoes is 3/4 cup and your kids are having multiple sides, decrease the serving size to 1/3 cup.

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Four Healthy Holiday Foods

Take note of these healthy and delicious holiday favorites:

*Cranberries are full of vitamin C and contain manganese, fiber and proanthocyanidins – the antioxidants that fight urinary tract infections.

*Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium.

*Turkey is the leanest meat source of protein — just leave off the skin.

*Green beans are an excellent source of manganese, vitamin K and vitamin C, and a good source of folate, fiber, potassium and iron.

The Children’s Hospital of Denver is a monthly contributor to Mile High Mamas. Learn more about Giving the Gift of a Healthy Childhood This Holiday Season on their Web site.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 10, 2010

    All are great tips. Well, except for the green beans. I just can’t stomach those. 🙂