Phew… we made it through Halloween. From a nutrition perspective, that’s one scary night! But let’s not forget that we have a few other holidays to contend with before our health-minded New Year’s resolutions kick into action.

Most adults have enough self-control to limit junk foods during the holiday season. But this time of year can be particularly difficult for children. With extra sweets at school, around the house, and at parties little ones can easily overdo the sugar. This is a recipe for holiday disaster! Sugary treats are packed with empty calories that deplete the body of nutrients, which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Sugar also depresses the immune system leaving your child more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Research shows that people who eat a lot of sugar are more prone to catching colds or the flu.

Stock your kitchen with healthy alternatives to candy, cookies and cakes. Fresh apples and pears are scrumptious this time of year. And dried fruits such as dates, figs, cranberries and raisins can satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Organic dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) is another decadent treat! For holiday baking look for recipes that use natural sweeteners such as stevia, honey, pure maple syrup, fruit juice and date sugar.

Before heading out to a holiday party, make sure your child’s tummy is full of healthy protein, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Protein foods are especially important as they lessen the effects of blood sugar spikes.

Until next time, make every bite count!