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Having a happy, healthy holiday is a family affair


The hustle and the bustle of the holidays can make it a challenge to stay committed to long-term goals. With work and school parties, a barrage of festive snacks, and the increased stress of fitting it all in, the holidays can make it easy for healthy habits to fall by the wayside.

And it’s not just parents that have trouble keeping it all together. Kids are affected physically and emotionally by the flurry of activity during the holiday season. New and different foods, schedules that veer wildly from the routine, strange surroundings when traveling – they can all turn even the happiest kid into a fragile ball of nerves.

Children’s Hospital Colorado helps kids tackle life’s biggest challenges, and to help parents and families find the answers they need they’ve created Just Ask Children’s. On Tuesday, November 25th, from 9 am – 4 pm MST, the pediatric experts at Children’s Hospital will be answering questions about how to keep the entire family happy and healthy through the holiday season and beyond.

My biggest concern is maintaining a healthy diet in between all the parties and holiday treats popping into our lives. The pros at Children’s Hospital Colorado are no stranger to helping kids (and their parents) stay healthy, and they’ve got a wealth of advice for eating healthy throughout the season:

Ask those in charge of meals ahead of time about planned meals and snacks. Raise the desire to include healthy eating options for you and your family. Focus more on what can be added and not that you want other foods (less nutritious foods to be gone). This approach will help to lower defensiveness. I might also help to ask if there is a chance to be involved with food preparation to include your own options for you and your family. This of course will require more involvement (and work!) but is sometime a helpful way to get more diverse food options served. Lastly, it may be helpful to bring your own (or purchase after traveling) snacks/drinks which can often contribute the most problem from a nutrition standpoint.

Finally, flexibility is needed on your part (you’re asking for the extended family above to be flexible). You may have fewer food options and the holidays may simply be less than desirable from a food standpoint. The time is limited during holiday gatherings and food is only a part of the visit so focus on the positive aspects for your visit. Perhaps when you host a gathering you can model inclusiveness by asking your extended family what can be served to accommodate their eating.

We also expect to do a lot of traveling in the next couple of months, and while Evan has been great on the infrequent trips we’ve taken, as he gets older (and more energetic), we’re anticipating more of a challenge for the long road and plane trips ahead. Luckily, Children’s Hospital Colorado has also shared some tips to keep him happy (and us sane) in our travels.

  • Be prepared with many activities that can keep your child’s attention for 5 -10 minutes at a time. The dollar store has great arts and crafts items that are not expensive. Sticky notes, magnetic toys, paper products (plastic cups and spoons), books, coloring books, stickers … anything that’s new to your child will keep them interested, at least for a few minutes.
  • Bring snacks and a sippy cup so that your child can eat and drink when he/she is hungry without having to wait for the beverage cart. Sippy cups are handy to minimize spills and messes. You can use special treats as rewards for buckling up, staying seated, sitting still, etc.
  • A change of clothes (or PJs if you are hoping your child will sleep) is good to have on hand. Consider throwing in a change of clothes for you too, especially if your child will be sitting on your lap. Layers are also helpful given how hard it is to know whether it’ll be hot or cold.
  • Don’t forget your child’s favorite toy/blanket. These important objects make getting through tough moments a little bit easier. Be sure you don’t leave them on the plane or anywhere else. If it’s truly irreplaceable, don’t travel with it.
  • Try to keep your toddler on their schedule, even if you are crossing time zones. If it’s nap time on the plane, plan for what would help your toddler take his or her nap. Prepare people who are picking you up if your child will need to get to bed right away when you arrive.
  • When the seat belt sign goes off and it’s safe to walk around, take a few walks up and down the aisle. Have your toddler wave to people or do some counting together.
  • Consider letting your toddler have a little bit of screen time, especially during times when you can’t get up and move around.
  • Consider bringing your car-seat on the airplane so that you can safely buckle your toddler in.

For more happy, healthy holiday tips, be sure to check out their live Online Q&A next Tuesday, November 25th, from 9 am – 4 pm MST, where their experts will be answering your and other parents’ questions. And don’t forget to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The opinions and text are all mine.