Need some Christmas health tips for kids? The Christmas holidays are full of sugary foods, late nights, excitement and a change of routine. This can be overwhelming for small children at times (and for us as parents!)
Here are our top Christmas health tips for kids to help you manage the party season and look after your family’s health. Anna is a registered Nutritional Therapist working with families in Bristol.
If you or your little ones are off to a party then try to get the children to eat a good meal or healthy snack before you go. This could be a vegetable soup, with wholegrain bread and a piece of fruit for lunch. Or boiled egg with some carrot sticks and hummus. Think about how you can include some protein and fibre into their little tummies before you get to the party. Protein helps to keep us fuller for longer, and will help them manage their blood sugars so they don’t get a high then a crash with sugary snacks which can have a huge effect on their moods. Fibre helps to feed the microbes in our gut for tip top health, as well as helping us feel full.
Manage the sweets
We are all built to love sweet tastes and it’s nice to enjoy some treats at festival times. If there is a choice of sugar and ‘diet’ or ‘sugar free’ choose the real sugar variety. Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, as these can interfere with our brain chemicals and have been shown to affect behaviour in children. It has also been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and, therefore, may play a role in weight gain and obesity. Aim to include some protein rich foods (e.g. meat, fish, nuts, tofu, pulses), or fibre rich foods (veggies, nuts, beans, fruit) to slow down the sugar rush.
Feed the bugs – fibre is your friend
Our gut is host to trillions of microbes, and they have an important role in our health. The bacteria that are most commonly associated with health love to feed on fibre that our bodies can’t digest. These bacteria support a reduction in inflammation, help us make serotonin, our happy hormone, and also our B vitamins, so we really need to work with them. You can give your children fruit and veggies, wholegrain bread and pasta, pulses and beans for a fibre boost
Keep hydrated – drink water
some of the typical party foods can be quite salty and if kids are tearing around they can get thirsty. So offer them water regularly, and also water rich foods like fruit or cucumber to help keep them hydrated. Keeping a water bottle or cup in their eye line, on a low table or shelf can help remind children to help themselves. Drinking throughout the day also stops a big thirsty drink at bedtime. If they drink loads before bed they may wake up to wee at night or wet the bed
Enjoy the party – being sociable and enjoying the company of your friends and family can be so beneficial for our health, and that of our kids. If they eat too much sugar for one day, and don’t eat their veggies then try not to worry too much. As long as you are creating healthy meals for the majority of the week a a slip isn’t the end of the world. Focus on what children eat over the course of a week, not just a day to put things in perspective.
If you’d like some support with your family’s diet get in touch to see how nutritional therapy can help you plan healthy family meals.