Seven Tips for Keeping Your Family’s Health and Fitness Goals on Track through the Holiday Season

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Kurbo Health Co-founder and Pediatric Obesity Counseling Expert Shares Holiday Healthy Eating Survival Strategies

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Making healthy choices for the family during the holidays is tough. From parties to special holiday meals, it’s nearly impossible to avoid encountering all the favorite guilty pleasure foods that threaten to derail our best intentions. What’s more, entertaining and enjoying the season’s festivities leave little time for exercise to work off those indulgences. There is hope, however.

Here at Kurbo, where we’ve worked with hundreds of kids, teens and families to establish healthier eating habits and get fit, we’ve come up with some great strategies for successfully navigating this tricky – and temptation-filled – time of year. Here are a few of our best tips.

1. Do not skip meals: During the holidays people tend to have a “save room for the big meal” mentality. This is a bad idea. If you don’t eat breakfast or lunch, you will be so hungry by the time dinner comes along that you will overeat and make poorer food choices. Make sure you eat normal meals until the big one. Maybe even have a healthy snack before you go to the dinner party, so you aren’t tempted to overeat the red-light hors d’ oeuvres when you first arrive.

2. Create an active tradition: This is a great way to make sure you get some good exercise on the holidays. Instead of watching football on TV, organize a family football game. You could also take a family bike ride or hike in the morning before your guests arrive. Whatever activity your family chooses, make it part of the holiday routine.

3. Decide which foods to limit and which to offer more of: Instead of serving five different types of pie, limit the offering to one variety of pie. Also, you don’t need sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. Research shows that if there are more choices, we will eat more. However, you can and should offer more vegetable-based dishes, so you are encouraged to fill our plate with more green light foods. Try finding fun and creative salads and antipasto dishes, too, for those who prefer their veggies uncooked.

4. If you are going to a potluck, bring a lighter side dish comprised of fruit, vegetables and/or lean proteins: This way you can ensure there is a healthy option for you and your family at the party. Here are three quick recipe suggestions:

  • Grilled Green Beans – toss green beans with a little olive oil, salt and pepper then put in oven at 450 for about 10 minutes.
  • Mashed potatoes – substitute chicken broth and nonfat milk to keep flavor but avoid the extra calories.
  • Fruit platter - Load up on fresh, organic fruits in a gorgeous display, and throw a few exotic or tropical varieties in for the special occasion.

5. Don’t eat too late, and don’t linger at the dinner table: If you eat around 4 or 5 pm, you will have plenty of time to digest your meal before bed and you’ll wake up feeling much better in the morning. Also, once you have finished your meal (and the dinner conversation has wound down) leave the table and clean your plate. Lingering will only cause you to eat (and drink) more.

6. Drink lots of water: This will also ensure that you don’t overeat. If you are hosting, get creative and add sliced limes and cranberries to sparkling water, and be sure to fill glasses in between courses and between glasses of wine or cocktails for the adults.

7. Send leftovers home with guests: You can keep some of your favorites, but make sure that you don’t end up with a ton of red-light leftovers in your fridge at the end of the night.

“Nobody wants to take the fun out of what is an incredibly special time of the year for most families, and even we understand that balance and moderation is the key to success with any kind of fitness or weight loss program,” explains Kurbo Health co-founder Thea Runyan, who works with kids and families as head of Kurbo’s coaching program. “Just trying a few of these ideas can help folks navigate diet pitfalls and still enjoy the season.”

About Kurbo Health
Kurbo is the first mobile subscription service to help kids and teenagers safely and effectively eat healthier and lose weight using their favorite tool—the smartphone. Based on Stanford University’s renowned and research-based Pediatric Weight Control Program, Kurbo is the only system combining personalized coaching and expert advice with mobile apps for food and activity tracking to promote healthier eating and exercise habits for children and their families. Kurbo Health is part of Rock Health, a full-service seed fund for digital health startups. The company has offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. For more information, please visit

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Aimee Grove
Kurbo Health
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