Sugar seems to run through my children's veins on a normal day of the year. During the holidays, though, it's like they're adhering to Buddy the Elf's four main food groups ("candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup"). Getting in those healthy snacks during the holidays can be tough. So in the month of December, I try to pack their lunches with a little more care—I toss in a little more protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and water bottles instead of juice boxes.
Once they get home, though, it's a different story. I love having egg nog in the fridge, or cookies on the counter, and chocolates on top of the fridge. And with all the wonderful treats around, it can be tricky to persuade them to eat right. I find having healthy food on hand and at the ready is one of the best ways to get kids to make healthier choices.
These are some of the healthier choices we have on hand during the holidays:
1. Dried fruit and nuts
We find raw cashews and fruit juice sweetened cranberries at the bulk section of our health food store. These two are our kids' favorites, and we will sometimes fill bowls with them and place them on the kitchen counter. We'll also put out sunflower seeds, pecans, and anything else they'll reach for.
2. Raw vegetables
These can be kept in the fridge, right within the reach of little hands. I like to cut up carrot sticks or celery and place them in water in containers in the fridge. I recently discovered grocery stores selling cut up cauliflower in bags. My seven-year-old will actually bring a bag of that to the table while he plays a video game and eat the florets like chips.
We love to stock up on oranges this time of year. When my kids were devouring the mandarin oranges and clementines at break-neck speed, I decided to just go with it. Now I just try to keep the pantry stocked with the tiny, peelable fruit in an endless supply.
Maybe this sounds like a no-brainer. But for someone who has been a single mom for years, trying to get everyone sitting down all at once every night with all the craziness of the holidays, is a tad difficult. When my fiance and I make a concerted effort to have dinner on the table every night, it helps us avoid last-minute trips to the pizza parlor, and gives us a chance to make the food as healthy as we want it to be.
How do you encourage healthy snacking with your kids, especially during the busy holiday season? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!