Parents: How to Help Your Kids Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Tips to teach children the power of saying "no, thank you" to poor choices.

Posted Nov 16, 2019

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

"Our family seems to gain weight during the holiday season," a parent said to me recently. "Especially the kids! Every year, it's the same thing. We can't seem to turn it around."

I can relate, because that used to be my reality, too. Especially during the holidays, everything, including food, seemed bigger, richer, and more abundant—tantalizing treats at every turn. One big food-extravaganza!

I would struggle to make healthy, moderate choices and to treat my body with kindness. It took quite some time before I learned how to eat sensibly, year-round. (And then I wrote two books on this important subject.)

But your kids don't need to be burdened with the same woes that I was.

As a parent, you can have a great deal of influence over your children's eating habits and attitudes about food. It's never too late to teach your children important lessons about sensible eating.

It can start by making friends with the word: "No."

You can teach your kids that:

  • "No" doesn't mean you're depriving yourself. "No" means you're taking care of yourself. ("I've had enough cake for today. I'm going to say 'no' to having another slice, because that wouldn't be kind to my body.")
  • "No" doesn't mean "never." It just means, "No... for right now." ("Just because I'm saying 'no' to an extra piece of cake right now, that doesn't mean that I can never have another piece of cake, ever.")
  • "No" doesn't mean "no fun allowed." ("Food is delicious, but we don't need food to entertain us! Let's go read a book, play a game, or watch a movie together.")
  • "No" to one food can sometimes mean "yes" to something else. ("I'm saying 'no' to that slice of cheesecake because it will make me feel sleepy. I am choosing to have a delicious spinach-banana smoothie instead, because it can give me tons of energy!")
  • "No" can still be polite. ("When Grandma Sally offered me a second helping of potatoes, I said, 'No, thank you,' in a nice tone of voice. You can say 'no' and still be polite.")

Even if "no" is an unfamiliar word in your household—especially around the dinner table—it's never too late to try to put healthy policies in place.

Lead by example, as best you can. Remember that you can be your children's most influential teacher. It's up to you to live, behave, and eat accordingly.

In that regard, here's a question that many parents have found useful to ask themselves:

"What do I need to say 'No' to, today?" (Maybe it's excess food... or something else on your metaphorical "plate"?)

To a very happy holiday season, filled with delicious treats... in moderation!

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Contact a qualified provider before implementing or modifying any personal growth or wellness program or technique, and with questions about your well-being.

Copyright ©2019 Dr. Suzanne Gelb, Ph.D., JD. All rights reserved.