Holiday Healthy Eating Strategies for Kids

I can’t believe it. Another year has flown by and here we are again in holidays. While this time of year is full of the joy of family and friends, it can also be a season devoid of vegetables and full of sugar. Here are some fun ways to get all of the holiday cheer, while still giving your child healthy food to meet their nutrition needs.

Prioritize Special Holiday Treats

Sugary treats are a traditional part of the holidays for most of us. The good news is that we don’t have to eat absolutely zero treats to be healthy. But you do want to avoid going overboard. Determine which traditions have the most significance for you. Keep those ones. Which traditions really don’t hold much meaning for you? Get rid of them. Or, substitute with non-sugary alternatives (read on for more of these swaps). For example, if you don’t really enjoy making a gingerbread house – skip it. Or, swap out the chocolate advent calendar for an advent calendar that holds toys. 

Fewer Non-Holiday Treats

Make room for some holiday treats by removing other sugary foods. This way you’re still getting the maximum holiday fun out of your child’s sugar intake, without going overboard. Sugar is often hiding in kids’ breakfast cereals, granola bars, drinks, that popular chocolate-hazelnut spread, even many peanut butters. Swap these foods for options with no added sugar and you’ve made room for holiday treats without your child eating any extra sugar.

Plan Healthy Meals and Snacks

Kids need the routine of regular meals and snacks, and the healthy foods served at them, to help them not get over-excited during the holidays. Break out your calendar and plan for meals and snacks around exciting holiday activities. For example, we adults may be okay with barely eating all Christmas Day in anticipation of the huge dinner, but kids can’t. Plan a healthy breakfast, morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for little ones. This way, it’s not as big a deal when they barely eat anything at dinner because of all the excitement because you know that they’ve met their nutrition needs at the other meals and snacks that day

Include Healthy Holiday Fun

There are countless ways to celebrate the holidays without sugary treats. Family outdoor physical activity, carol singing, and holiday crafts can be full of holiday fun. Often we think of baking with kids but kids love cooking too. Looking for ideas? Pinterest is my go-to place for inspiration. For example, Leah and the Love Child Organics folks have fun holiday craft ideas on their Pinterest board and I have fun, healthy holiday food ideas on my Pinterest board. My 5 year old niece and I had a great time making the kiwi Christmas tree fruit platter together last year. I haven’t yet decided what we’ll make this year – perhaps the kiwi wreath and Christmas tree veggie platter.

Looking for more ideas on how to help little ones behave well during holiday meals? Check out this post that I wrote previously for tips on enjoying holiday meals with toddlers.


Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps moms and dads support your picky kids to get good nutrition today…and instill a life-long love of healthy eating. Find out more:

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