…making gingerbread houses and decorating Christmas cookies with my mom and brothers,
…strolling downtown Chicago looking at the festive Marshal Fields’ windows as the snow falls on my head,
…going to see the Nutcracker Ballet,
…enjoying dinner with my family Christmas Eve after going to church and,
…driving around to look at the Christmas lights.
It is those memories, traditions, and the people I experienced them with that mean the most to me. Not what gift I got each year. It seems that these days the focus of the holidays has shifted and the main spotlight now rests on “me me me.” Let’s bring back the true significance of the holiday season and celebrate family, faith, friendship, tradition, and a hope for good health and happiness in the year to come!
Re-evaulate your priorities and build healthy family oriented traditions your family can grow around and look forward to each year.
Here are five of my favorite healthy holiday traditions:
- Promote physical activity and family bonding time and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood with the dogs enjoying the Christmas lights. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week is recommended to reduce the risk of disease, promote cardiovascular health, and control body weight. Increase the intensity of the activity or the amount of time to promote weight loss.
- Change up some of your favorite recipes to reduce fat, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and calories or even find some new ones the whole family will love. Cook with herbs and spices other than salt for flavor. Grill, bake, or broil your favorite foods instead of frying and choose lean cuts of meat. Make the switch to whole grain pasta or bread. Try baking with applesauce instead of butter, using two egg whites in place of a whole egg, or sneaking some vegetables into dishes. Check out this page for other healthy ideas.
- Talk while you eat. Enjoying conversation and or drinking sips of water or other calorie free beverage throughout a meal doesn’t only bring you closer and make the meal more enjoyable, but it also controls your rate of eating allowing you time to feel the sensation of being full before you overeat.
- Collect a new holiday dish every year! Choose a smaller sized plate to help control the portion sizes you serve yourself during holiday meals. Studies show that the larger the dish is the greater the portion size will be, and the more you will eat regardless of hunger. Plus, a new holiday plate every year will start an eclectic family collection that can be passed on.
- Make your New Year’s resolutions together and hold each other accountable. Working together towards one goal -- a healthier family -- will make family members more likely to follow through with their resolutions. If that isn’t enough, sign up for a race such as a half marathon. The following year you can all look back and see the amazing things you accomplished together, including a reduction in disease risk, all through healthy lifestyle changes.
Wishing you all the joys of health, family, tradition, and good faith
in the New Year!