December 8, 2008

Here’s to A Happy Healthy Holiday

By Nan Jensen, Families and Consumers Agent, Pinellas County Extension

Ah the holidays are here! The parties, the tempting foods, the late nights with little sleep trying to accomplish those extra chores, visits from Aunt “M” and Uncle Mo. So much for that routine you were used to following.

Many times, the holidays and all the “extras “they bring with them can cause extra stress and take the “joy” out of what should be a joyful occasion. Here are some tips to keep your holidays happy and healthy.

Hit the grocery stores and fill the pantry with healthy foods that you and you family will enjoy. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals are good choices. These types of foods will help you deal with those extra stresses during this hectic season. My Pyramid is a helpful tool to use for tracking your food choices and offers helpful suggestions on making healthy ones.

Don't skip meals. And especially not breakfast! You are more likely to over-indulge in unhealthy foods such the hors d'oeuvres at an after-work party, or the "quick fix" of pizza or fries on the way home from shopping or work.

While holiday treats are often delicious they are not necessarily nutritious. When you are at those social gatherings, pace yourself when faced with tempting goodies. Seek out healthier food choices, such as the fresh fruit or veggie tray, and limit your intake of the delicious but not so nutritious items such as the cheesecake, “Pigs in a Blanket” and eggnog. And before heading out for that holiday gathering, enjoy a small healthy meal at home. You'll be less likely to overdo it on the goodies later. For information on the “calorie cost” of those holidays goodies and what activities will help you manage those calories go to

Stay active, even if you can’t follow your usual exercise routine. Socialize with your holiday guests by asking them to take a walk with you. After the holidays, you can return to your usual fitness routine. Also, taking a walk before a meal may prevent you from overeating.

Identify what causes you stress and find ways around it. Some people dislike crowded stores. Why not try shopping on-line or order by phone or mail from one of the great catalogues you tucked away in a drawer. Take some time off work during the week to shop when stores are less busy. Make a home-made gift or donate time or money to a charity in honor of the gift recipient. To help you manage stress anytime of year the University of Florida has some helpful publications at

Get plenty of sleep. During this busy time of year, don't shortchange yourself on sleep. Most of us require about seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and more during periods of extra stress. That goes for the children too. If all of you are well-rested you can enjoy those special family traditions that make the holidays so memorable.

Learn to say no particularly if you are overcommitted and who isn’t? Don't feel guilty. Remember that you have the option to politely decline invitations - or cancel or reschedule a few events if need be. Save your energy for the things you feel are important.

Try to spend some “alone time” on something just for you. Just 15 minutes each day doing an activity you enjoy can help refresh and re-energize you.

Enjoy the holidays and make them happy and healthy ones.

No comments:

Post a Comment