Healthier Holiday Traditions

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Wisconsin, there were some foodstuffs named Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate, and Cheesy Casserole. As usual, they were feeling confident as they approached the holiday season, knowing they would be as popular as ever. They were always a hit at parties hosted by The Family.

The foodstuffs loved to reminisce about the time The Family had an impromptu pie-eating contest to see who could eat the most slices. They laughed at how The Family turned to them for comfort during the cold winter months. Looking back on it, it seemed as though all The Family did all winter was eat!

However, to the foodstuffs’ dismay, The Family made a list of do’s and don’ts for 2011. A heart attack scare and major weight gain made The Family realize healthy eating, exercising, and stress management were critical for preventing chronic illnesses.

The Family still let the foodstuffs come to the parties, but there were healthier options there, too: vegetables prepared in healthy ways, fresh fruit with no added sugar, and butter alternatives, such as olive oil. To their dismay, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate, and Cheesy Casserole weren’t the center of attention this year. They were just enjoyed in moderation . . . and there wasn’t even a pie-eating contest.

Do This
• Eat a salad or soup before the main entrée.
• Make events about relationships and people—not about food.
• Increase your exercise. Even in winter weather you can bundle up for an outside walk or head to the mall for an indoor walk.
• Eat smaller portions.
• Park farther away from stores.
• Scan over all the food options before filling your plate, especially at a buffet or potluck.
• Savor the food, and chew slowly. If you tend to eat even when you’re not hungry, get your mind off food by talking to someone, going for a walk, chewing gum, brushing your teeth, or doing a holiday activity.
• Have a snowball fight. Go skiing or sledding. Just be active.

Don’t Do This
• Don’t go to a party hungry. Have a healthy snack before you go, so you won’t be ravenous when you arrive.
• Don’t eat extra servings or desserts just because they are there. Make your splurges things that are really worth it to you.
• Don’t skip out on your sleep just because you have time off work or school.
• Don’t choose fattening items when there are healthier alternatives. For example, change up whole milk for almond milk.
• Don’t sit on the couch after dinner. Take a stroll or play with the kids.
• Don’t eat all your gifts of chocolates, cookies, and cake. For portion control, share them with others.
• Don’t stress over event planning. Meditate in prayer, exercise to take your mind off things, relax by slowing down, or get a massage.
• Don’t drink extra sugary drinks. Calories add up fast with each swig, and most people serve themselves far more than is healthy.