Five simple steps to make the holidays healthy

My children love the holidays. They are giddy with the sounds, sights, and smells of the season. Like many parents, the holidays are a time to share treasured traditions through cooking, baking and eating! But a full calendar of holiday celebrations can quickly add up to a less than healthy holiday menu. As adults, it’s not uncommon to put on an extra pound or two between Thanksgiving and New Year’s by overeating and under-exercising. For kids, the combination of sugary treats, late nights visiting with friends and family, and less time for active outdoor play can be a recipe for an unhealthy start to the New Year.

Keeping the holidays healthy for you and your kids is easy with just a few small changes. Here are five simple steps you can take to make the holidays healthy and happy this year!

1) Slow down– Back-to-back parties can run kids (and parents) ragged. Space out parties! Plan for a rest day in-between big events to allow little bodies to recover. If you’re visiting family, and getting away from the group is tough, plan for an activity that connects the kids back to nature like a hike or sledding.

2) Play each day– Schedule time each day to get out and play! On mild days, ride bikes to the park. On rainy days, try a family game of hoops at the gym. If time is working against you, crank up the tunes and have a dance party in your living room. Just get moving!

3) Health up holiday meals– Offer a couple of healthy options at each holiday meal. Steamed veggies, like green beans or broccoli, are beautiful on their own and make a colorful complement to a holiday table.

4) Balance your day– If you’re heading off to a big family dinner, plan for lighter fare earlier in the day. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on yogurt parfaits to infuse a little holiday flavor into your breakfast. Homemade, hearty chicken noodle soup can make for a veggie packed, lighter lunch option.

5) Go for H2O– Put out a pitcher of water on your kitchen table so kids can easily help themselves throughout the day. Remind kids (and yourself) to fill ‘er up.

Like Michael Pollan says, “Break the rules once in a while.” But if you can enjoy holiday festivities and incorporate a few of these healthy tips into your celebrations you’re sure to start out the New Year on a healthy note.

Jennifer Tyler Lee

Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year (Penguin Random House/Avery 2014) and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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