Candy and fruitcake can work miracles in letting us reach back and touch the warmest memories of our holidays past. And it's no wonder that the holidays are like mini-vacations from wise, reasonable eating - a time to let go. Sweet treats are everywhere this time of year, especially Oct. 31. It's hard enough to struggle with our own issues of desire versus self-control, but as a parent, keeping our children out of the cookie jar can seem a never-ending battle. (Not to mention ourselves.)

We worry about obesity, behavioral upsets and cavities -- and dooming our child to a lifetime as an unhealthy eater -- every time we notice they are reaching for one more cookie.

Try using these tips to help your family's choices be naturally wise -- and naturally better!

  • Set the Wise Example. Your children may not always do as you say, but you can be sure they will do as you do! Your attitudes about eating are a significant contribution to your little one's health. There is no need to set up holiday sugarplums as "forbidden fruit," just let your celebrations be centered on traditions beyond sweet treats. It may be making ornaments or presents for loved ones, baking breads or muffins, or singing new praise songs, but it is expressing that you know the "reason for the season."

  • Learn to Balance. Breakfast still is the most important meal of the day; make sure your family doesn't leave home without it! It lets the body begin the day with its needs met. Through the rest of the day, be sure that your family meals at home are whole grain, low-fat meals that are full of a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to balance out the occasional sweet treat.

  • Power Snack! Wise snacking fills the sweet tooth's cavity. Well- timed and balanced snacking prevents wide drops in blood sugar levels that leave us sleepy and craving sweets. Offer a healthy snack every two and a half to three hours between meals to keep your child happy and bright. Stock the kitchen with healthful and wise snack choices such as energy-giving carbohydrates (whole-grain breads, rolls, English muffins and bagels, low-fat crackers, frozen waffles) to combine with power proteins (low-fat cheeses, lean meats, yogurts, reduced-fat cream cheese, cottage cheese, pop-top cans of tuna or chicken). When snack time nears, set out a plate of sliced fresh fruit or veggies to nip those candy and cookie cravings before they hit.

  • Keep Kids Active. Children who watch hours of TV are shown to be more likely to snack on high fat, sugary foods. It may be the food ads or boredom, but it is preventable! The goal is to foster wholesome eating habits in our children that will make them less impressed by, and less obsessed with, foods that rob from health. Good habits are a gift that keeps on giving -- and that is perfect for the holidays!

    Teach kids great nutrition by teaching them how to cook with Pam's Come Cook With Me - A Kid's Cookbook. Check it out at
    http://www.pamsmith.com/books.htm

    Need encouragement in your battle against extra pounds? Read
    Devotions for Dieters daily.