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Creating a Festive and Healthy Holiday for Your Children

  [ 17 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • November 6, 2002

Holiday meals can have special meaning because of the traditions and memories they evoke. However parents who are trying to make healthy eating a lifelong habit for their children face particular challenges at the holidays as they attempt to set a festive table as well as a good example, says Alice Baker a registered dietitian at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

But with some careful thought and planning, parents can prepare some creative, nutritious meals their children will love, she said.

Here are some suggestions from Baker:

* Consider making a menu of a few special, well-prepared items rather than a large selection.

* Make your meal special by presenting food in a pleasing way. Plan foods of different colors and textures and use garnishes, both to add a spot of color and to take up a little space on the plate.

* If you serve an appetizer, use cut vegetables nicely arranged and a low-fat salad dressing. Don't place dishes of nuts, chips, candy or party mixes around the house.

* Consider decreasing the fat in your recipes. Many recipes can taste great using half the amount of cheese, butter or cream in the recipe.

* Serve vegetables that are steamed, grilled, or baked with a little added fat. Make them look appealing by not overcooking them and serving them in a special dish.

* Try mashed potatoes made with chicken broth instead of milk or cream and lots of butter.

* Avoid heavy sauces or gravy -- try a low-fat recipe or slightly thickened chicken or beef broth.

* Serve a vegetable soup or consomme as a first course. This can be filling.

* Serve appropriate portions.

* Make one dessert (even if it's rich) instead of several.

* Be prepared with a few conversation topics and let family and guests concentrate on conversation rather than food.

* Plan activities other then eating for family gatherings. Go for walks on snow-laden streets, take a sleigh ride, play charades, ping-pong, board games or cards.

* Let your kids be involved with cooking and baking. Teach them healthy principles as they are participating.

* As a family, eat a light breakfast and lunch. This will prevent ravenous hunger and overeating at your holiday meal.

Parents can create memorable, healthy, holiday traditions that the entire family can enjoy.

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