Lessons in cafeteria can help children have healthy holidays

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Every day, students learn lessons about fitness and nutrition at school. But what happens with those healthy habits when the students are on Thanksgiving and Christmas break? There are ways children can still eat well and stay healthy during the holidays.

"Family Lunch Friday" has become a tasty tradition at Jeff Davis Elementary School in Biloxi. On the menu: Sloppy Joes, baked fries, fat-free milk, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

JaVonnah Wiley came to support her six-year-old son JaMorieon Suggs. She said it is not that easy getting her son to eat healthy at home.

"It's very hard. My son chooses to eat cake and the pies and all that before he wants to eat anything, any string beans, any corn," said JaVonnah Wiley of Biloxi.

It only gets harder during the holiday season with so many rich recipes, high-calorie casseroles, and other tempting treats.

"I would have to bribe him and tell him he can have as much cake or pies he wants, if he eats the healthy food he's supposed to have first," said Wiley.

Mississippi school nutrition experts say parents and children can work together to make meals that are not loaded with saturated fats, sodium and sugar.

"Being at home, they can work with their families to plan the menus out. They can look up recipes to look at traditional holiday meals and figure out healthier ways to do that, looking at ways to incorporate the fruits and vegetables and whole grains that they're using in school in their meals at home with their families," said Lydia West with the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

And don't forget to work off the extra weight.

"There are so many wonderful parks and sidewalks here on the Gulf Coast. So it's a great time of year to take advantage of some of those, using this time as a family when the kids are out of school. It's great time to take a walk or play in the park as a family," said West.

Experts also say families that eat together tend to encourage each other to make healthier choices. They added that parents can still offer their children traditional holiday meals. Just make sure half of their plates are filled with fruits and vegetables.

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