The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and of course, food. While Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for families to indulge in their favorite holiday meal, it’s important for children to learn healthy ways to enjoy the holiday. While you want your kids to have fun, you also want to make sure they are growing up to have a healthy relationship with food. With a little bit of planning, your children can still enjoy a festive Thanksgiving gathering while making healthy choices. That's why we've taken the liberty of listing five tips to help your family have a healthy Thanksgiving this year.
1. Balance Your Plate
When it comes to creating a healthy Thanksgiving plate, balance is key. Whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein should make up most of your child’s plate. You can start by encouraging them to swap out refined grains like white bread and white rice for whole grain options like whole wheat bread and brown rice. Next, help them load up on plenty of fresh vegetables. Aim for a mix of color and variety, including leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli or collard greens, and root vegetables like carrots. When it comes to turkey, serve them white meat instead of dark meat to cut down on saturated fat.
It's important to note that balance does not mean restriction. Your kids can still enjoy a small slice of pumpkin pie for dessert and make it a healthy choice! Pumpkin pie and fresh fruit are both delicious and nutritious ways to round out a Thanksgiving meal. Having a healthy Thanksgiving dinner is all about finding the right balance of nutritious foods and delicious flavors. By following these tips, your family can enjoy a meal that is both healthy and satisfying.
2. Limit Your Portion Sizes
One big tip for a healthy Thanksgiving is to limit portion sizes. It can be tempting for children to overindulge in all of their favorite holiday dishes, but remind them that it's important to listen to their bodies and not eat more than they’re hungry for. An easy way to do this is to make sure they don't skip meals leading up to the big meal. Have the family eat a healthy breakfast and lunch throughout the day so that no one is ravenous by the time dinner rolls around. And when you are sitting down to enjoy your meal, make sure everyone takes their time! Instruct your kids to savor each bite and pay attention to when they start to feel full. They’ll be less likely to overeat if they eat slowly and mindfully. This way, your children can indulge in their favorite Thanksgiving foods without feeling stuffed and uncomfortable.
3. Make Time For Exercise
One of the best ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving is to make time for exercise. This can be challenging when you have a house full of family and friends, but there are plenty of opportunities to sneak in some physical activity. Taking a family walk early in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day, and you can also stay active by playing games with your kids or going for a family hike. In fact, there are many local Turkey Trots in Virginia that you can get involved in on Thanksgiving morning! If you want to start the day with a family run for a good cause, sign your family up for the 10th annual Fairfax County Turkey Trot this year. Making time for exercise will help to relieve stress, which can come in handy when dealing with family dynamics. So this Thanksgiving, make sure to give your children the gift of health by making time for some family exercise.
4. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important throughout the day, but it is especially crucial to drink plenty of fluids on Thanksgiving. Between all the cooking, cleaning, playing, and socializing, it's easy for parents and children alike to forget to drink water. But if you don't stay hydrated, you may end up feeling fatigued and run down. So keep yourself hydrated and encourage your children to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and you'll be sure to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
5. Don't Skip The Doctor
As anyone who has ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner knows, the holiday can be a lot of work. In addition to cooking and cleaning, there is also the task of making sure that everything is safe for your children to eat and drink. For children with certain health conditions, this can be a real challenge. For example, if your child has diabetes, you'll need to be careful about giving them too many sweets. Also, make sure to inform family and friends about any food allergies or health concerns that could make certain dishes or activities dangerous for your children.
With so many viral illnesses this time of year, you’ll also want to look out for any sickness. If anyone in your family is sick or exhibiting symptoms like fever, vomiting, or significant cough, you’ll want to avoid indoor gatherings. If you’re traveling, it’s good to research pediatric urgent cares or emergency rooms near your destination ahead of time.
While Capital Area Pediatrics offices are closed on Thanksgiving Day, our offices are open Friday and through the weekend. We will also have a nurse and doctor on call during the holiday to offer support for your child. By staying connected with your pediatrician, you can help ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.
While it's essential to think about your family’s health during the holiday, you can still enjoy your favorite foods and carry on the family tradition as you always would. Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, and as long as you come prepared and stay mindful about your choices, you and your children can enjoy a healthy, safe Thanksgiving day.
If your family needs to check in with the doctor before the big celebration, visit your family pediatrician at Capital Area Pediatrics. Whether your child has a health condition like Asthma, suffered an acute injury during family football, or has food allergies, the pediatricians at Capital Area Pediatrics can help. Our providers are dedicated to ensuring your family's health not only this holiday season but all year round.
If your child needs pediatric care, Capital Area Pediatrics offers top-tier pediatric care to families at five surrounding locations throughout Northern Virginia. Our dedicated team is committed to providing everything from newborn care to adolescent care for your child. All of our providers are accepting new patients and would be happy to reconnect with our existing families. Request an appointment online, or find a location near you today.