Careless eating habits and couch potato pastimes

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The holiday season is upon us and so is the temptation to adopt careless eating habits and couch potato pastimes. During the holiday’s parents can be an example of healthy eating and an active lifestyle. It is easy for children to snack around, skip meals, and stay inside this time of year. “Focus on being with family, friends and loved ones, rather than ‘what’s to eat,'” suggests Richard E. Kreipe, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the Adolescent Medicine Division of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong. The following are a few tips for parents who desire to model an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits this winter:

Model Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is a lifestyle. “Kids who are taught from a young age to eat well and note their hunger level are much more prepared to make healthy choices later in life,” said Stephen R. Cook, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor for the Department of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

Bring the kids into the kitchen while preparing healthy holiday meals. By watching adults prepare foods, kids can get some tips on healthy eating and engage in a family activity.

At the dinner table, adults should encourage small portions of a variety of foods and lots of fruits and vegetables. “Encourage water as the beverage of choice between meals,” said Kreipe. Milk is another nutrient-rich beverage.

Express Excitement

It is important not to overemphasize healthy habits. Pressuring kids to eat things they do not like and prohibiting certain foods can be frustrating and stressful to kids. “Talk with children ahead of time about taking small portions, eating single-servings and sharing desserts,” advised Cook.

“The single most important thing that parents can do is lead by example,” stressed Kreipe. “Listen twice as much as you talk and don’t talk about food in the same breath as calories, guilt, or ‘paying the price.'” Turn healthy eating into a positive experience by showing excitement about trying a variety of healthy foods in small portions.

Be Active

Cold weather doesn’t have to limit activity during holiday seasons. There is plenty that families can do to get off the couch and enjoy one another’s company. “Going for a nice brisk walk, especially after eating a heavy meal, can be refreshing and relaxing,” Kreipe said.

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