According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories during one Thanksgiving meal. Now, think about how many calories an adult could potentially rack up in one day if s/he visits multiple households during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Makes my belly hurt to think about it! Just as adults may have a tendency to overindulge during Thanksgiving, the likelihood of partaking in that overindulgence also extends to our young children.
It is common knowledge that we as parents are the most important, influential role models for our children regarding appropriate behavior. In addition, we also must uphold that the food choices we make have a tremendous impact on our own children’s diet. So the next time you think about getting one more slice of pecan pie, or one more plate of mashed potatoes and gravy, or even one more helping of buttery biscuits—remember that your child’s little tummy is most likely following your lead. Here are five tips for a healthy Thanksgiving to help keep your family’s appetite within reason during the holiday bounty.
- Plan on a post holiday meal family walk or some kind of fun physical activity. Although the initial idea is that “it’s okay to overindulge because I’ll walk it off later,” the opposite actually happens. You end up almost tricking yourself to reel in your appetite because you’ll want to be at your best to keep up with fellow walkers. Going to be eating at someone else’s house? Don’t forget to stash some good walking shoes in your car.
- Make sure to bring your child’s portioned cafeteria plates, the kind with the areas of the plate separated. Using your child’s regular plates will keep you from overfilling an adult size plate for your toddler. If you forget your child’s plate, use a smaller plate instead. Moreover, do not share a plate with your child. It’s hard to gauge if you’ve served enough for yourself as well some more for your child. It’s easier to see appropriate portion sizes if you each have a separate plate.
- Start with greens, greens, and more greens. Make the starter salad or side vegetables be the main course instead of the bird. Moreover, if you’re heading to a party, offer to bring a vegetable side dish where you can prepare it with healthier alternatives (i.e., low sodium, little to no butter or sugar added, etc.). This will ensure you that at least one dish at the gathering is healthy and that your child will find it familiar.
- Be sure to mingle with you little ones away from the food table. Don’t tempt yourself or your toddler with hanging out by sweet goodies that will visually call you to take “just a nibble.”
- Remember, we are human. Don’t get down on yourself if you do end up accepting the offer for that extra piece of pecan pie. Just try your best to keep food choices in moderation. As parents we have loving, little motivators to keep us up and moving to help burn some of those extra Thanksgiving calories–our fun, energetic young children!
The Parenting Hub would love to hear about ways you keep your Thanksgiving feast healthy for you and your young children. Please send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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