Seven tips for a season of health and happiness

It’s time to celebrate; just keep healthy habits as part of the mix.

By Kim Larson

Nutrition Scoop

The holidays are already upon us — is your stress level beginning to rise? It needn’t be a pressure-filled or health-wrecking period of time if you focus on habits that support health, happiness and peace.

Here are seven tips that will help you create a healthful holiday season that you can enjoy and celebrate — after all, that’s what this time of year is about!

Reflect on last year and choose one thing you would like to do differently this year to manage your health better. Is it getting more consistent sleep? Is it managing your time better? What would you like to change that you know will help you feel better at the end of the day or the end of the season?

Find time to move every day. No matter how busy you feel, it’s important to keep movement and regular exercise a part of your daily schedule. Making sure you get to the gym is one way, but even just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner can lower stress, help clear your mind, burn calories, strengthen muscles, help you sleep better and support a healthier metabolism.

Let go of less meaningful traditions and choose just a few that are important to you. You don’t have to do everything you did last year or hang on to what your family has done for centuries. Choose to do only the rituals that you love and that provide meaning and joy in your life.

Limit gift giving and instead, give of yourself to others by volunteering at a church or non-profit organization. Spend time with elderly relatives or friends, cook a meal for someone in need, deliver a Christmas basket to someone you know who needs someone to care, clean house for someone who is sick, serve at a local food bank or shelter, take someone disabled to see Christmas lights around your community. These gifts from the heart mean more than any present you can buy.

If you are trying to lose weight, change your goal to maintain — and not gain weight — during December. It’s OK to enjoy festive foods, but be selective and mindful of the ones you choose so that you stay the weight you entered the season with. Stay on track by weighing yourself every other day — even if that’s not what you usually do. It will help you take charge and reverse course if you need to change what you are doing with your eating and drinking before you experience negative consequences that you’ll regret.

Eat balanced meals at regular intervals consistently throughout the day. It will prevent hunger that may trigger binge eating on sweets, junk foods and party foods.

Fill up on fruits and veggies that are high in fiber and water to feel full, avoid mindless munching and help control calories.

In January, my column will help jump-start your health in the New Year. Merry Christmas!

Kim Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Total Health,, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

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