'Tis the Season to be Healthy
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - Lydia Phua, thatswholesome.com
It is that time of the year, where school is out, Christmas decorations are up and prices are down. The holidays are here and everyone, especially the kids, are excited to just stay home and play video games all day long and not think about homework. I do remember looking forward to staying up late, sleeping in and having snacks while watching the telly when I was a child, not knowing the negative effects it could have on my health.
But can the holidays actually cause unnecessary harm to our children’s health? With the late nights, long hours glued to a screen and perhaps irregular meal times or over indulgence in junk food? I agree completely that the holidays should be carefree and not lack any fun, but you could tweak a couple of things at home to make the holidays a lot more healthful for your children as well as the entire family.
How to make your children’s holiday fun, exciting and a little more wholesome?
1. Healthier snacking!
Snacking is great. Adults love it, so do children. But sometimes, snacking on the wrong foods can have negative impacts on our health. Growing children especially, should consume more snacks that are healthier and nutritious snacks instead of packaged junk food like crisps and candies to support their growth and development. Just by decreasing the amount of times a week your child is consuming processed food and instead have something more whole and natural can make a huge difference. It is also a good habit to pause on their video games or TV time to slowly munch and savour their food as this allows them to be more aware of what they’re eating and when they are full.
Here are a couple of simple recipes you can easily whip up at home in less than 15 minutes.
a - Toasted pita and hummus
1 piece whole wheat tortilla
1 can chick peas
1 glove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
*If you’re feeling Christmasy, add kale or rocket leaves to make green hummus and beetroot to make red hummus.
Step 1 : Toast tortilla in oven until crispy.
Step 2 : Place chick peas in food processor and blend till smooth to make hummus. Add garlic, salt and pepper.
Step 3 : Break tortilla into bite size pieces. Dip into hummus.
b - For those with a sweet tooth, try a health-friendly apple crumble.
2 Granny smith apples
1 cup rolled oats
Honey to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
Step 1 : Slice or roughly chop up apples.
Step 2 : In a separate bowl, mix rolled oats, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Step 3 : In a baking dish, place apples at the base and cover with the rolled oats.
Step 4 : Bake until oats are golden brown.
Step 5 : Drizzle with honey once apple crumble has cooled down.
2. Get physical!
Taking a break from electronic devices to enjoy the outdoors can go a long way for anyone frankly. But regular physical activity plays quite a huge role in raising healthy and bright children. Children should have at least an hour of exercise in their daily routine. Being physically active has many benefits for growing children, from improved cognitive function to building stronger muscles and bones and reducing their risk of being overweight. (Archer, 2014)
Also, if your child has had a busy year at school, exercising regularly can help relax them and reduce stress and anxiety, which may help them sleep better at night. So get active with your children and have a fun workout with them. Take them to the park, go swimming or just play a ball game in the garden. This won’t just boost both yours and your child’s health but also your relationship with them.
3. New Year’s resolutions
As the end of the year is approaching, we adults will start thinking of our new year’s resolutions. Why not include the kids and guide them in achieving mini goals?
Instead of the infamous ‘lose weight’ new years resolution, why not gain health, by focusing more on what’s healthy and positive. It could be something as simple as drinking more water and having less soda, setting goals to have a piece of fruit in their daily meals or having proper breakfast every morning. You can be accountable to one another and help each other out in accomplishing the health goals you set as a family. This could be a fun approach to help your children to be more aware about their health too.
(Archer T (2014) Health Benefits of Physical Exercise for Children and Adolescents. J Nov Physiother 4:203 doi: 10.4172/2165-7025.1000203)
Lydia is a practising Nutritionist and is a member of the Nutrition Society Malaysia. She has helped many individuals from different health backgrounds in the past. She is currently working on a nutrition and health website www.thatswholesome.com and teaches kids biology during the day. In the meantime, log on to thats_wholesome on Instagram for more nutritional inspiration.