Planning ahead can help kids save room for the main...

Planning ahead can help kids save room for the main course. Credit: Fotolia / Giorgio Magini

This weekend is full of celebrations, with both Christmas and Hanukkah falling on Saturday and Sunday. How can parents help kids cut down on the gluttony?

Lilly Cadoch, an Oceanside mom of two boys, ages 12 and 9, and author of the 2016 book “Busy Mom’s Cheat Sheet: Raising Happy Healthy Kids” ($11.99), offers the following suggestions and has more tips for healthy living in her book and on her blog.

Before the parties:

  • Start the day with a smoothie so kids get fruit and vegetable nutrients in their systems.
  • Feed the kids. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you’ve given them a healthy meal or healthy snacks, they won’t be starving and binge on unhealthy offerings.
  • Take a hike or a walk around the block with the dog or engage in some other fun exercise together. That way, even if the kids eat too much, at least they have burned some calories in advance.
  • Teach older kids to have a plan of attack for a buffet — to look over all the offerings first and then choose what they most want instead of loading up their plate.

While at parties:

  • Avoid soda. Substitute water whenever possible, and dilute juice with water or seltzer. In fact, making sure kids drink lots of water can reduce their grazing.
  • Guide your kids away from the snack table. Engage them in socializing and activities that aren’t within reach of the potato chip bowl.
  • Bring some healthful snacks with you, so you can offer them to your child if you think they are choosing too much junk food.
  • Institute a 20-minute rule on seconds. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the brain to register that the body is full.