Create Healthy Holiday Traditions

Health didn’t used to be a priority at my family’s holiday celebrations. But over the years, some of us developed health problems, some of us wanted to live healthier, and one of us studied nutrition. And little by little, our family celebrations started to change. We started going for a walk after meals. A big salad, full of fruit, veggies, nuts, and crumbles of cheese, now takes up more space on our plates than my grandmother’s crockpot mac & cheese. The dessert selection, once filling up an entire table, has been pared down to just our favorites. Even with all these healthy changes to our holiday traditions, we still are able to enjoy time together just as much as before.

Create New Traditions with Your Family

Family meals, especially holiday celebrations, are when you pass on traditions to your children. By making healthy changes now, you can actually be creating a healthier future for generations to come. Show your kids and future grandkids how to Eat Smart and Move More and you’ll help them build healthy habits for life.

Nutrition Message for parents of young children

Ideas to Eat Smart at Holiday Celebrations

  • Have a veggie tray with a healthy dip, like Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, for an appetizer. That will keep everyone from filling up on higher calorie/fat foods, like chips, before the main meal.
  • Keep MyPlate in mind as you plan your holiday meals. Make half your plate fruits and veggies, choose whole grain versions of your favorite sides, and stick with lean protein options (like white meat turkey or ham).
  • Enjoy dessert in moderation. By limiting sweets most of the time, your holiday treats are truly special and can fit into your healthy eating goals.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Stick with water, unsweetened tea or coffee. You can make your holiday beverages special by making flavored water to serve. What a fun and tasty tradition to pass along!
  • Have your children pick out a special recipe to help prepare for the holiday meal. Remember to plan for a little extra time and clean-up. It will be worth it in the end to see how proud (and willing to eat) their special recipe your kids will be. This will become a lasting tradition and a source a special memories for your family.

Make lasting memories. Cook together. (2)

Ideas to Move More at Holiday Celebrations

  • A nice walk before or after dinner is a great way to help your digestion, burn some extra calories, and enjoy time with your family. It also helps lower stress, which can happen with so many extra people in your home.
  • Many communities are holding holiday fun runs to help citizens move more. Most of these races offer family-friendly run/walk options and are more about enjoying moving your body than competition.
  • Games, like charades, Twister®, or Simon Says, are fun ways to get the whole family moving. In fact, family game night is a great tradition that should be done year round. Less screen time, more family time!

Your Turn!

What are some healthy holiday traditions you have in your family celebrations? Are there any you want to start this year? Please share in the comments!

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