The holidays are a time of joy, laughter, and festivities. Festivities mean parties and parties mean food. The holiday times usually mean chaos for the family schedule and eating.
I really try to celebrate the holidays without allowing all the unhealthy food and sweets to throw my family off track. This is important to me since I run frequently and am always trying to eat smart for my next half marathon adventure. Being a health educator, I also know the importance of keeping my little ones from going off the junk food deep end.
These are some things I do to model healthy holidays around the house:
Substitute Low Fat/Low Calorie Ingredients
• I often use two egg whites in the place of one egg. I've learned this can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same result.
• Try to substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins, breads and sweets. I try substituting a small amount at first; the more I substitute, the more the texture of the finished product changes. My family never notices the difference!
• For dips, sauces, dressings and pie toppings, I use fat-free ingredients. Fat-free yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping have the same effect without the extra fat.
• Choose reduced-fat or low-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles. This is easier on the waist and the kids’ tummies.
• I try to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Low-fat yogurt with granola and berries, eggs with whole wheat toast and tomatoes, or toast with peanut butter and bananas. Eating a hearty breakfast makes the whole family less likely to indulge in holiday goodies throughout the day, wherever they may be.
• I choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those to skip. I talk to Stella, my 3-year-old, about what to avoid before the party, and we stick with that plan. For example, we will plan to eat dinner with some vegetables BEFORE we get dessert.
• I don’t rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before eating.
• Moving the socializing away from the buffet or appetizer tray is something that always keeps me out of trouble. It's my secret to minimizing unconscious nibbling.
• I fill the family’s plate with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices. This makes less room for those high calorie/fatty foods.
Stay On The Move
• I try to schedule outside time even if it means only heading out for 20-30 minutes before it gets dark. This keeps the family moving and off the couch.
• I encourage my family and guests to join me on walks or runs. If I have visitors, I ask them to come along. If they don’t run, I take them for a nice walk.
• I like to join in holiday and family-friendly events this time of year. There are so many fun walking/running events through the holiday season. Events such as the Holiday Half in Pomona have family fun expos all the way to half marathons that welcome costumes and strollers! That’s where we will be this weekend!
As you enjoy the sunshine, remember that it's important to cover all angles when protecting your children from the sun. It's estimated that your child will get more than half of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, and using sun protection can decrease your child's risk of getting skin-cancer later in life.
I've done some research on this subject and learned that the sun has two types of ultraviolet rays that can cause damage to the skin. These rays are UVA and UVB and both can be damaging and cancer causing.
A sunscreen's SPF (sun protection factor) is a measurement of how well it protects against sunburn. If you slather on an SPF 30 product, you should be able to stay in the sun for 30 times longer without burning than if your skin were bare. However, SPF only measures how well a sunscreen blocks UVB. There are no numbers that measure protection against UVA.
Apply sunscreen to your child everyday so that it becomes part of their morning routine. Don’t forget places like their hands, feet, ears, scalp, and the back of their neck. Get your children used to putting on lip balm with SPF as well.
Because sunscreen is only one aspect of sun protection and does not protect against UVA rays, parents need to take other precautions.
Staying out of the sun when it's at its strongest is crucial. This is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. While outdoors, seek shaded areas with your children if possible. Consider bringing a sun shade if you are going someplace where shade is minimal.
Protective clothing is another important part of sun protection. Putting on a wide brimmed hat can help protect your child’s scalp, ears, eyes, face and neck. Consider looking for clothing that has an ultraviolet-protection factor or UPF. Be sure that sunglasses also say that they filter out the sun’s harmful rays.
Protected Kids = Happy Kids
Most importantly, be a good role model. Put on sunscreen with your children and make it fun to play in the shade. Want the little ones to keep their hats on? Wear yours as well. Make sun protection a priority for the whole family!