Source: Post Eagle Newspaper
Family holiday customs include trimming trees, lighting candles, and making traditional foods and sweets we know and love. But, it is also a time of overindulgence. Today, with about one in three American kids and teens overweight or obese, it is more important than ever to make smart, heart healthy choices for the entire family.
“Seasonal fruits and vegetables can add color to your table and can make your traditional meals more nutritious,” said Dr. Marcus Williams, “half your plate should comprise of fruits and vegetables, while the other two quarters should be made up of whole grains and healthy proteins.”
The American Heart Association has tips to keep your family and your meals healthy during holiday celebrations and keep stress at a minimum. With some healthy substitutes, family recipes can taste just as good when you try these simple tricks:
- Instead of butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce.
- Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
- Instead of whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
- Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
- Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter (even in your mashed potatoes).
- Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.
- Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.
Healthy children aged 2 and older should participate in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Finding an activity that the entire family can participate in, such as a family walk, can become a healthy holiday tradition for the entire family. For every two hours of vigorous activity, adults can add one year to their life expectancy. So make sure to keep your scheduled time at the gym and take that family walk.
Stress can be at its highest level when you are trying to take care of the family, cook, clean and prepare for any guests. To keep stress to a minimum try some of these tips:
- Plan ahead to help manage your time.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Get the kids to help with chores.
- Take time to relax.
Getting enough sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holidays, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly. Also, a recent sleep study of teenagers found that greater variability in day-to-day sleep habits was associated with higher calories consumed throughout the day. So try and keep a child’s scheduled bedtime the same when possible.
For more tips and information on keeping your family healthy during the holidays go to Heart.org/Kids.