Now that we’re into the 2013 holiday season, remember the messages you are sending to the youth in your life.
Holidays are filled with sweet treats and comfort foods, often with few healthy foods and little exercise. It’s a great time to celebrate with friends and family, but healthy messages should still be a part of the event. And you have a wonderful opportunity to teach everyone that healthy eating and staying active can be fun!
You don’t have to take away the traditional dishes that everyone loves, simply add some healthy options to the menu:
- Make sure there are choices from all food groups, including a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Everyone needs to 10+ servings of fruits and vegetables every day, so in addition to traditional side veggie dishes like potatoes, also have a tray with raw vegetables sticks or a fruit tray of different colors. Encourage children and adults to “eat the rainbow” and choose the fruits and vegetables they enjoy.
Simple changes to the holiday menu can start a new tradition and keep guests coming back for more.
In addition to keeping the menu healthy, add some physical activity to your parties! There are a variety of games to play that can be fun for everyone. Each year there could be one game that is played and a few new ones could be added:
- Try a simple version of charades that gets everyone moving, laughing and having fun together.
- Have children share the games they have learned at school with the family. Kids could play an active game outside while the adults cheer them on.
- Theme your party, as that theme could create some ideas for games too.
- Award small prizes like stickers, small toys, pens, notepads, small pieces of fruit and more!
- Ask children and youth to help with the meal as an assistant (setting the table, checking on something in the oven, handing out napkins, etc).
- Hold a scavenger hunt to get everyone moving. Some guests may be more creative than active.
- Have a craft table and all the supplies to make a craft. This is another way to get guests of all ages and abilities around the same table to create something together.
If these ideas are totally new to you, trying introducing the idea slowly this year and you will be surprised at the ideas that come to the table! Your guests may have menu ideas and activity ideas that can become a new healthy holiday tradition.
Happy holidays everyone!
Blogger Shelby Schroeder is the coordinator for St. Louis OASIS’ CATCH Healthy Habits, an intergenerational program where volunteers age 50+ teach children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. In St. Louis, CATCH Healthy Habits is funded by a grant from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation. For more information, contact Shelby at email@example.com or 314-653-4092, or visit: www.catchhealthyhabits.org