During the holiday season, it’s likely you and your family will be attending numerous holiday parties and possibly even hosting one. Follow these tips to help keep your family healthy during the holidays.

  1. Bring healthier snacks. Try a recipe that incorporates fruits and vegetables with a low-fat dip, make homemade pizzas on whole wheat, or bring a fruit salad with a yogurt dip.
  2. Incorporate healthier substitutes. Find ways to swap out ingredients in holiday recipes for healthier alternatives to lower the amounts of fat, added sugar and calories children consume. 
  3. Make healthy drinks easy to grab. Make water easy to grab for children. To make the healthier options a little more appealing to kids, make some fun ice cubes out of 100 percent fruit juice or offer seltzer water. 
  4. Don’t bring ravenous children. Never take children to a holiday party on an empty stomach because it leads to less self-control and more overeating on empty calories. Parents should aim to keep kids on a regular schedule with three meals a day and healthy snacks.
  5. Involve kids in the preparation. Parents can involve children in the holiday food preparation as early as their toddler years.
  6. Be a healthy role model. Show your children that you eat a variety of foods and monitor your own portion sizes at holiday celebrations.
  7. Shift the festivities’ focus. Make the holiday festivities more about enjoying family, traditions and activities, rather than the food.
  8. Remember to exercise. Exercise is even more important during the holiday season. Aim for an hour a day, every day.
  9. Keep sleep schedules consistent. With all the holiday excitement, it can be difficult for children to unwind from the festivities and get a good night’s rest. Parents can help by sticking to their child’s regular bedtime schedule as often as possible.
  10. Reinforce regular hand washing. To help keep children from spreading germs or contracting an illness at holiday celebrations, children should regularly wash their hands. Teach kids to wash their hands for 30 seconds or sing happy birthday twice while washing and then dry with a clean towel. 


Megan Barna, MS, RD, is an outpatient dietitian at Children's National in Washington, D.C.

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Posts from Megan Barna, MS, RD, LD