Kids love sweets. It’s no secret. In fact, it’s normal for all kids, even those with the most advanced palates. If navigating the dessert table, candy dishes, and cookie trays at holiday parties with your kids makes you feel uncertain or anxious, rest assured you’re not alone. What if they eat too much? How much is too much? What if they want only desserts and refuse the meal? What if they start throwing a tantrum when they want more and I say “no.” These are all common concerns among parents during this time of year.

As the holidays are upon us, try to remember these 3 tips for managing the sugar overload that is undoubtedly coming in the next few weeks.

  1. One night of overindulgence is not going to derail your kids’ healthy eating habits (or your efforts toward instilling those habits).
    Research actually suggests that parents who are the strictest with their kids’ food choices tend to have children with an increased risk of being overweight, compared to parents who are flexible rule setters. Sweets don’t need to be completely off-limits or strictly managed by parents, but rather fit into an overall healthy diet pattern. Let your kids have some say in their choices at holiday parties (i.e., Pick 2 or 3 of whatever you want…) and you’ll help foster a healthy relationship with sweets that can last a lifetime.
  2. Forget the Clean Plate Club
    There’s no need to have kids finish their entire plate before they can have dessert. Instead, ask your kids if they are still hungry after the meal. If the answer is “yes,” then encourage them to get a few things from the dessert table. If your kids are pestering you for desserts during the meal, calmly remind them that everyone is still eating dinner and we can talk about dessert afterwards. Focus on filling up on the good stuff first and your kids will be more likely to naturally limit their intake of sweets because they aren’t overly hungry. 
  3. Make a Plate
    Just as grazing encourages over eating in adults, the same is true for kids. After dinner is over, have your kids make their choices, put them on their plate, and have a seat. Sitting and enjoying the treats will also encourage moderation.

Enjoy your holiday parties, as well as the rest of the holiday season and all the excitement it brings!

P.S. These tips are even appropriate for any “big kid” who might tend to overindulge at dessert tables at holiday parties. 😉

 

Mary Wissmann

Mary Wissmann is our weight management and family nutrition guru. As a Registered Dietitian for over 11 years, she has worked with individual clients, conducted research, taught community nutrition and health programs, and led many community health initiatives. She spent 7 years as a university faculty member, which provided her with extensive experience reading and interpreting the latest nutrition and health research. If you are interested in working with Mary, please visit our contact page.