Christmas is coming and we know it will be filled with festive goodies like chocolate coins, mince pies, candy canes and ‘royal icing topped with little silver balls’ from the Christmas cake!
To be honest most of us will agree that a certain amount of sugar is absolutely essential to fuel those late nights and very, very, early starts. I’m a great believer in allowing children certain indulgences and the phrase ‘A little bit of what you fancy does you good’ has become a bit of a motto in the Bushell household. Having said that I also like ‘everything in moderation’ and this is what I try and encourage my family to do throughout the festive season so that our healthy eating agenda doesn’t ride off on Santa’s sleigh!
Here’s my top 5 tips to help your family stay on course while still allowing for those essential indulgences:
1. Set their expectations.
Decide in advance what you feel is an acceptable amount of the sweet stuff and share this information your kids. It might be ‘ 3 sweet treats a day’ which could be one item from their advent calendar after lunch, a pick at the icing from the Christmas cake and 3 Quality Street chocolates from the tin. Once they know their limits allow them to be in charge of what they choose and when to have it.
2. Keep to your child’s normal routine.
This can be tricky when there’s a lot going on, from visiting relatives and parties to attend, however if your child still has a nap, try and make sure that this remains part of their day. When it’s snack-time, allow for a chocolate tree decoration alongside their usual healthy blueberries, and when its bedtime, follow their usual bath and bedtime routine. All children - whatever their age - are creatures of habit and sticking to their usual routine will make them happier for it.
3. Festive fruit and veg
Not all snacks need to be sugary; there are loads of festive healthy alternatives from ‘Santa Hat Strawberries’ to ‘Kiwi Christmas Tree’s.’ Type ‘Healthy Christmas food for kids’ into Pintrest for ideas and inspiration.
4. Get them involved
Chopping veggies, mixing mincemeat, stirring the bread sauce… kids who cook are much more likely to eat a varied and balanced diet. Pick tasks that are age appropriate, even toddlers can get involved in stirring up batters and cake mix. From10 your pre-teen can be trusted with a sharp knife to chop veggies, but stay close by and show them the ‘claw grip’ and ‘bridge hold’ to protect their little fingers. Check these out on YouTube if you’re not sure yourself.
5. Wrap up warm and go outdoors
Keeping active over the festive season is really important. Not only will it provide an outlet for your kids to burn off their sugar rush, but activity helps digestion of all the rich food and fresh air will help them sleep better too. Pick an activity you all love like bike riding, scooting or walking along the beach (I’m lucky I live on the South Coast) and get out there…just don’t forget your woolly hat and scarf!
Most of all enjoy yourselves, Christmas is a wonderful time for making memories, catching up with loved ones, and if you over indulge, you can always get back on track in the New Year!