Dismiss Modal

Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (Dec. 19, 2023) —This is the season for lots of food, treats, and time with family and friends. While parents are getting ready for the holiday season, nutrition experts want to remind moms and dads to pay attention to what their child is eating and drinking.


Janelle Hanick, a registered dietitian at Children’s of Alabama, says there are some food-related challenges around the holidays because food is everywhere, and it connects us. She also says parents should never forget that they set an example for their children when it comes to healthy eating.

“It is important for parents to be role models for their children throughout the year, but especially during the holidays because children are curious and observant,” said Hanick. “This is a great opportunity as a parent to mimic healthy eating habits.”

Hanick adds there are some different ways families can maintain healthy eating habits over the holidays, including sticking to a schedule and eating consistent meals and snacks. Hanick recommends parents look for ways to include fruits and vegetables in every meal and practice moderation when it comes to certain foods like desserts. She also says there are some ways to have a traditional holiday meal but with some healthier alternatives.

“It is imperative that parents try to get fruits and vegetables in the meals. This can be in the form of cranberry sauce or a fruit-flavored dessert like fruit pies. Making sure this is part of your child’s plate will help balance and round out the meal.” said Hanick. “Also, parents should look for ways to cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Hanick says one way to reduce the amount of sugar your child consumes is by encouraging them to drink more water. She also advises parents to look for added sugar in sweets or pre-packaged foods. To see if a food has added sugar, check the ingredient list for sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners such as dextrose, fructose, honey or molasses. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 25 grams of sugar per day, which is about six teaspoons. Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay or fatty liver disease.

To learn more about reducing sugar in your child’s diet, click here.