Parenting: Watching holiday calories

December 7, 2102

Studies show that about a third of American kids will gain weight over the holidays.

For parents, that raises the question of how you can stop your kids from over-indulging, without seeming like a holiday food Scrooge.

"We have an over abundance of food around the holidays and calories are lurking around every corner," says Emma Fogt.

Nutritionist Emma Fogt says it's hard enough for grown-ups to watch their weight at holiday parties, and it is no different for kids.

Amy Buckman's 11-year-old son Micah tells her, "I like pumpkin pie and the cookies you make, and pretty much anything chocolate."

Many moms don't want to be the parent who tells their child they can't have that candy cane or other sweet treats during the holidays.

"But you can be the one parent, depending on the age, that says, one candy cane is enough," said Fogt.

Fogt suggests that parents control the What, When and Where of food for their kids.

"What" entails pointing them toward healthy choices instead of fat-filled or sugary treats.

You might offer your child apple slices and a cheese stick before a party, so they are not so tempted to fill up on cookies and cake.

"When" means setting guidelines like dessert only comes after we have eaten healthy foods.

For "Where..."

"Parents decide maybe if you have three parties in a row, which parties are you going to go to and where you are going to eat," said Fogt.

Once the what, when and where are set, it's time to step back and let the kids decide whether to eat. If they do over-indulge, don't let it ruin their holiday fun.

Fogt also has advice about how to handle relatives who absolutely insist your child eat some traditional family dish that they have so lovingly slaved over and prepared.

She suggests taking a small "polite bite" and then heaping praise on the chef, so they know their efforts are appreciated.

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