Children need a variety of foods every day for proper development. However, children's stomachs are small, and they often can't get everything they need through meals alone. Offering snacks is a great way to add important foods that promote good health. However, during the holidays, an abundance of sweets and calorie-laden drinks are available. Although delicious, the overconsumption of these empty calorie treats leaves little space for healthier options, such as low-fat milk, light yogurt, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
So, it's important for parents to set limits to control their children's consumption of sweets and sugary beverages, even during the holidays. The following are some practices for parents to consider:
• Reduce television time. According to research, about half of television commercials children see every day promote junk foods. Plus, when children are watching television, they are not getting any exercise.
• Leave fresh fruit, vegetables, low-calorie yogurt, low-fat milk, and light popcorn for snacks, instead of sugary treats and soda.
• Divide candy, cookies, and other holiday treats into snack-sized bags. Allow only one bag per day.
• Limit sodas and other high-calorie, nonnutritious drinks to only one per week.
For more information on healthy eating and cooking, contact your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Joe Dibble is a registered dietitian with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.