Did the holiday season arrive sooner than you expected? For many people this week will be a very busy time. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday this winter, take time to establish healthy holiday traditions.
Want some ideas to help you get started?
• Think Fresh! Make fresh fruits and vegetables available for snacking. If they are readily available, your family may choose vegetables and fruits over calorie-rich snacks. Have the veggies ready to go to encourage healthy snacking. Take a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana for those last-minute shopping trips. If you have a healthy snack, you may avoid the temptation to eat a high calorie fast food or rich dessert.
• Move more! If you are shopping don’t worry about finding the parking space that is closest to your store, park further away and get extra steps in.
• Have fun! If it is snowy, get outside and play in the snow. Play active indoor games or dance to holiday music. Take a family walk after dinner. Get up and move – make it a family tradition to take a New Year’s Day walk or Christmas Eve walk around the neighborhood to see the lights.
• Give back! Encourage your family members to donate food for the food pantry, help serve at a community meal site, or volunteer to serve meals at a shelter. Adopt a family, purchase mittens and hats for the local mitten and hat tree, or ask guests to bring a food donation instead of a hostess gift at your holiday party. Food pantries often experience a shortage with an increased need over the holidays. Include your family in the giving traditions so they can experience the joy of giving to others.
• Thank others! Write an annual letter to your child or your parents. If you are a parent, take the time at the end of the year to reflect on the past year including the milestones and small activities that your family enjoyed over the past year. If you have elderly parents or grandparents, take time to ask for that favorite recipe or holiday tradition. Your family member will be happy to share their ideas and you will be able to capture important information about what makes your family special. Take time to write a short “thank you” to your parent, grandparent or significant person for something they did that touched your heart or enriched your life.
• Let’s Cook! Cook or bake with your family or friends. Show children how to cook or bake those special foods your family enjoys. Talk about these foods or special baked goods as you prepare them and encourage everyone to taste them.
• Explore cultures! Share customs from your own heritage or enrich their lives by exposing your children to other cultures. Share information about holidays, customs and foods that others may enjoy during this time including Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanza.
What ideas can you share for establishing healthy holiday traditions?
Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, email@example.com
Hardy, Bethany, 5 Meaningful Holiday Traditions for Kids available from http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/5-meaningful-holiday-traditions-kids/
Enjoy Foods from Many cultures available from http://choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet31EnjoyFoodsFromManyCultures.pdf
Make Healthier Holiday Choices available from http://choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet32MakeHealthierHolidayChoices.pdf