Healthy holiday eating for kids

2010-12-13 14:24

The festive season is fraught with opportunities for children – and their parents – to over-indulge in fatty and unhealthy foods like fast food and sweets.

But there’s hope. The Nutrition Information Centre of the University of Stellenbosch (Nicus) has given advice on how to turn your children’s naughty eating habits into habits that will make even Santa proud:

What are children’s most dangerous festive season eating habits?
» Eating lots of fast food, especially on days when they visit the mall, the beach, or any place where they spend most of a day.
» Continuous snacking, especially when staying at home for the day.
» Drinking higher volumes of sugar-containing cold drinks.
» Irregular eating, skipping meals and then compensating with very large meals.
» Consuming less fruit and vegetables.

What healthy eating habits can parents/guardians enforce during the festive season?
» Pack picnic baskets for day trips instead of buying food at the venue.
» Ensure that there are healthy snacks in the cupboard and little energy-dense snacks.
» Buy sugar-free cold drinks and promote the intake of water.
» Try to stick to the usual pattern of eating regular meals at suitable times.
» Stock up on a wide variety of summer fruit and vegetables available in stores.

How can parents substitute fast food with healthy food in a fun and interesting way?
» Make your own hamburger patties with lean mince, onion, tomato sauce, chutney, mustard and bread crumbs and add to a whole-wheat roll with salad and tomato sauce.
» Choose healthier side dishes when buying convenience food, for example corn instead of chips, and sugar-free cold drink or a milk drink instead of the regular cold drink.
» Be aware of healthier items listed on menus and take-out outlets offering smoothies, healthy wraps, sandwiches and rolls.
» Make fruit kebabs or fruit salad with fruit of different colours – even if you add a bit of ice-cream, it will still be healthier than a chocolate bar.
» Pop your own popcorn at home instead of eating crispy chips.

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