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Glistening candy canes, creamy log cakes, chewy gingerbread cookies… The shelves are brimming with our favourite Christmas treats this time of year, tempting many of us into sweet indulgence. 

While adults may be more diet-conscious, children often get carried away with consuming extra calories over the holidays. These calories come disguised as festive dishes and desserts rich in salt, sugar and fat. An unbalanced diet with too much of these foods may cause a host of health and behavioural problems in children and youth.

A Sweet Season

Most children love sweets, making many Christmas treats irresistible. However, sugary foods can lead to tooth decay, energy fluctuations and, in the long term, the development of diabetes and other health issues. If your child consumes more calories than he can burn off with exercise, he may even gain unwanted weight. 

Instead of store-bought processed snacks and drinks, look for healthier beverage options and baked goods. Fresh fruits and unsweetened nuts are healthier snack options too. Sparkling water with slices of citrus can be as festive as sugar-laden fizzy soft drinks. You can also try some Christmas recipes that use alternative options in lieu of the usual rich ingredients. 

Most importantly, remember the golden rule: keep everything in moderation. 

Have Regular Meals Instead of Huge Christmas Feasts

Nobody likes a Grinch at Christmas. When children have irregular meals, blood sugar levels fluctuate, which may result in erratic energy levels. Having smaller, regular meals throughout the day — rather than starving to “save space” for a huge Christmas feast later in the day. Eating during the festive period is all about balance. If your child’s lunch is heavy or high in sugar, balance it out with a light, healthy dinner that packs less sugar..

Have More Fun, Not Food

Diet aside, keeping children active is also vital for a healthy lifestyle. With loved ones all together, playing games is a great way to fill Christmas gatherings with laughter and activity. Instead of sitting at the dining table or in front of the TV all day, get everyone on their feet for a game of charades, or hide presents around the house and let the kids go on a treasure hunt. 

Put Screens on Santa’s Naughty List

Finally, when your family does sit down for Christmas dinner, make it a rule to put away all screens and switch off the TV. Distractions tend to cause overeating and furthermore, take away from quality family time. 

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year to enjoy with our loved ones after all. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!