For a Healthy Holiday Season: Keep it simple.
Rachel Pohlman, MPH, RD, LDN – Nutrition Manager
Just about everyone has experienced the challenges of trying to stay fit during the holidays. It is cold and dark outside, which can discourage exercise, and indulgent food and drink seems to pop up everywhere. There are countless sources ready to bombard you with tips and tricks to manage it all. I could easily post a quick list of top 10 healthy holiday tips right now. To keep it simple, here are two comprehensive approaches that are my absolute favorites! They cover many of the smaller decisions you may make this time of year – and the rest of the year, as well.
My favorite advice is to slow down and reflect on the reason behind the celebration. My spouse and I come from different traditions and grew up with our own unique ways of celebrating the holidays. Raising kids, we quickly learned that it was too much to try to maintain every single ritual and tradition. This forced us to step back and really think about holidays and what they mean to us. We decided which holidays are important to us, what we want to teach our children, and how we want to honor the day. The deeper meaning of a holiday will be different for everyone, but ways to honor the day may include community service, special time with family or friends, religious practices, or even going for a hike for an active start to the New Year.
This leads right in to my second favorite strategy, which is to be mindful. Being mindful means you are taking the time to pay attention to your actions. You are being deliberate and putting thought into your decisions. I slowed down and was mindful about how to observe holidays. You can also be mindful about your daily activities. Are you choosing movies as your entertainment, or are you going bowling with the family instead? You can be mindful about your food. Are you grazing at the party buffet or are you making a well-chosen plate of snacks and stopping eating when you are done? Use your senses and pay attention to the flavors, textures, smells of the food instead of tossing it back and moving on to the next item. This can even increase your enjoyment of your food. Slowing down and being mindful also makes it easier to pay attention to your hunger cues. Not hungry? Stop eating and go socialize! Finally, it is very important to be mindful of your drinks this time of year since they add a substantial amount of calories. Drinks with alcohol can make us less mindful about the other behaviors and decisions we are making as well.
For those of you who were really hoping for 10 tips on staying healthy this holiday season, here you go:
- Step away from the buffet table. Take the conversations and your plate into another room.
- Get up and get moving! Dance, play with kids, walk the dog, play ball, etc. Do what gets you up and makes you happy. Make exercise part of the fun.
- Stay busy volunteering – more activity means less time to graze.
- Drink water often.
- Make less food.
- Give your recipes a makeover.
- Keep your protein lean.
- Eat whole grains instead of white flour.
- Eat your fruit!
- Eat your veggies!
And of course… be mindful of your decisions. Happy Holidays everyone!
- Worried holiday weight gain will weigh you down? Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less
- The Center for Mindful Eating
For the Classroom: Teaching Mindful Eating
Check out these great activities for teaching young students about mindful eating.
- Mindful Eating. Mindful Schools.
- Mindfulness Exercise for Kids with Chocolate (VIDEO)
Interested in bringing this topic to your school or organization?
Check out Food for Thought, which includes activities that teach mindfulness. The Poe Center offers a variety of nutrition and physical activity programs for grades k-12. Schedule a program with us today.
Food for Thought
Grade Level: 4th – 5th
Program Length: 60 minutes
Have your students ever asked… Why do we need food? What is “MyPlate”? What are the different food groups and do I need to eat foods from all of them? How does media influence food choices? Are all body types the same? Is dieting healthy? If you said yes to any of these questions, don’t give it a second thought; sign up for this program today. The session will answer each of these questions and more.