With Christmas just around the corner, festive season temptations can be a challenge when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance especially for kids.
While everyone should indulge a little these school holidays, head of QUT’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and the PEACH program, Professor Lynne Daniel, said it was important to avoid going overboard.
“Regardless of age I think most of us enjoy a few treats at this time of the year, but it’s important not to undo all the good work made during the year towards leading a healthy lifestyle,” Professor Daniels said.
“Planning ahead is wise in the holidays. When kids are a bit bored they usually graze between meals and often reach for the chips, chocolates and lollies.
“These treats should be limited. Instead ensure there are healthy snacks readily available—fresh fruit and vegies cut up, fruit smoothie popsicles, water-based ice blocks, frozen grapes, or jelly made with freshly-squeezed juice.”
Professor Daniels said parents could use the holidays as a time to engage their children in the kitchen to help make healthy meals and snacks, keeping them busy and away from screens.
“Cooking shows are incredibly popular and a lot of kids will be inspired to get creative in the kitchen,” she said.
“Getting them involved is a great way to steer them clear of ready-made snacks from the supermarkets. Most of these could never be regarded as a healthy choice and I urge parents to always read the nutrition label even if the product is in the ‘health food’ section.
“Portion size should also be considered for the whole family. It’s very easy to overload your plate or go back for seconds and thirds at Christmas lunch or dinner.
“Sharing dessert is also a great option. Drinking water with lots of ice, sprigs of mint and slices of lime or other fruits is far better for you than soft drinks and fruit juice.
“As for takeaway food, try to choose healthy options. Avoid fried foods, share portions and consider adding a home-made salad or fruit dessert to the meal. You’ll save money too.”
Professor Daniels said eating in front of screens, whether televisions, computers or phones, was a recipe for poor health.
“It’s not always possible but ideally a family should sit down together and enjoy a meal without distraction. This is a good opportunity to limit children’s screen time,” she said.
“Families should also try to get into the routine of daily walks, swims, bike rides or some other form of physical activity; especially during the holidays period.”
The Queensland Government funds the PEACH (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) program, which is free and available to families with primary school-aged children. New courses are beginning across the state in February.
For more information and to enrol, free call 1800 263 519 or visit www.peachqld.com.au