During the holiday season, it’s likely you and your family will be attending numerous holiday parties and possibly even hosting one. While it’s important to make sure the festivities are fun for the whole family, here are 10 tips from Children’s National Health System to ensure children have a healthier experience:

Bring healthier snacks to events. Try a recipe that incorporates fruits and vegetables with a low-fat dip, make homemade pizzas on whole wheat, or bring a fruit salad with a yogurt dip.

Incorporate healthier substitutes. Find ways to swap out ingredients in holiday recipes for healthier alternatives to lower the amounts of fat, added sugar and calories children consume.

Make healthy drinks easily available. Make sure water is easy to grab for children. To make the healthier options a little more appealing to kids, create some fun ice cubes out of 100 percent fruit juice or offer seltzer water.

Don’t bring ravenous children. Never take children to a holiday party on an empty stomach because it leads to less self-control and more overeating on empty calories. Aim to keep kids on a regular schedule with three meals a day and healthy snacks.

Involve kids in the preparation. Children can be included in the holiday food preparation as early as their toddler years. Remember to make it appropriate for their skill and age levels.

Be a healthy role model. Show your children that you eat a variety of foods and monitor your own portion sizes at holiday celebrations. You and other family members are the number one role models for these behaviors.

Shift the festivities’ focus. Make the holiday festivities more about enjoying family, traditions and activities, rather than the food.

Encourage kids to get moving. Exercise is even more important during the holiday season and we recommend that children get an hour a day, every day. Balance out some of the increased treats with increased activity.

Keep sleep schedules consistent. With all the holiday excitement, it can be difficult for children to unwind from the festivities and get a good night’s rest. Parents can help by sticking to their child’s regular bedtime schedule as often as possible.

Reinforce regular hand washing. To help keep children from spreading germs or contracting an illness at holiday celebrations, they should regularly wash their hands. Teach kids to wash their hands for 30 seconds or sing happy birthday twice while washing and then dry with a clean towel.

Think Family-wide. Parents should think about maintaining a healthy diet throughout the holidays for the whole family, rather than just for the kids. Help make the healthy choice the easy choice by encouraging and role modeling healthy habits at home.

The staff at Children’s National wish you and yours a happy and healthy new year. Their office at THEARC has expanded, and is now accepting new patients. Call 202-436-3060 for an appointment today.

For more information on keeping your kids happy and healthy, visit RiseandShine.ChildrensNational.org, where you can get advice straight from the experts at Children’s National.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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