5 Healthy Holiday Habits

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Make plans for healthy holidays

Healthful Holiday Prep by Steph Beth Nickel

As Christmas rapidly approaches, most of us have an especially long To Do list. Let’s consider how we can make healthy choices while preparing for the holidays.

1. Healthful Decorating

This is more of a “safety first” idea, but we all know decorating for the holidays can lead to stress, strain, and even injury.

Here’s one suggestion for avoiding each:

Link holiday decorating to a fun family activity. After we decorated the tree each year, we would watch The Muppet Christmas Carol together. Doing so still gives me “the warm fuzzies,” even though only one of our three children still lives at home.

We risk both emotional and physical strain if we try to do too many things in a short timeframe. As much as possible, why not spread out holiday prep over the weeks before the 25th? This is where making an extensive To Do list can come in handy.

There are so many ways to get injured at this time of year. Burns, breaks, backs … You get the idea. Slow down a little. Think things through. Create a reasonable schedule. Enlist others’ help. And be sure to step back from the craziness regularly.

2. Healthful Christmas Baking

Why not type “healthy holiday baking” or “healthy holiday baking substitutions” into an Internet search engine. Who knows? You may even create a new family favourite.

Just a hint: you’ll likely want to do some small test batches to see how the recipes turn out. Using healthier ingredients is a great idea—but only if your family and friends will actually eat what you’ve made.

3. Healthful Entertaining

This is really a follow-up on the previous topic of healthful baking, but for many of us, entertaining includes more than just setting out baked goods and other desserts. How about beverages, finger foods, even main courses?

Crackers and cheese, fresh fruit and yoghurt dip, and baked tortilla chips and salsa make great appetizers and are more healthy options than what we often set out.

When it comes to choosing which entrée to serve, remember to include lots of vegetables. I would also suggest checking out the healthy substitutions I mentioned earlier. Also, be reasonable in the amount of food you prepare. Your guests don’t have to walk away from the table stuffed to overflowing.

4. Healthful Gift-Giving

A couple of years ago, I wrote a two-part series titled “The Gift of Fitness.” In the first installment, I listed suggestions such as these:

1) Consider pooling your money and getting a family gift this year: a treadmill, an elliptical, a rowing machine, a Bowflex, a Wii Fit.

2) A new blender and a book of smoothie recipes would make a great gift—one the whole family could benefit from.

3) If money is tight and you’re looking for an inexpensive option, why not make your own coupon book? Include things like “Redeem for a Half Hour Walk,” “Redeem for a Weekend Run,” “Redeem for a Bike Ride To and From the Park,” “Redeem for a Dance Off,” etc.

4. Healthful Downtime

Downtime? Who has time for downtime at this time of year?

Well, you should. Rest is so important for healthy living.

Recently, I’ve begun putting times beside the items on my To Do list. This confirmed the fact that I have a tendency to “bite off more than I can chew.” I would encourage you to include restful, rejuvenating items on your list.

Curling up with a good book is great, but so is heading to the gym for a workout. That may not feel like downtime, but we often let our crazy busy schedule affect out exercise schedule and we really shouldn’t—at least not for prolonged periods of time.

And sleep … don’t forget to get enough sleep. It’s so, so, so important.

5. Healthful Planning for the New Year

This is the time of year we begin to think about New Year’s resolutions, what healthy habits we want to incorporate into our day-to-day routine. When we try to make too many changes at once, we often end up frustrated before the end of January. However, if we spread out our resolutions over the year, we’re more likely to stick with them. I wrote a post on the topic a year ago, “How to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions.” (I may just have to give this a go again this coming year.)


Make plans for healthy holidays. (tweet this)



Stephanie Nickel


Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

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6 thoughts on “5 Healthy Holiday Habits

  1. Great suggestions for healthy holiday habits! I’m reading this as I’m exhausted because I just did a marathon cleaning before friends come over within the hour. (The good news is I’m ahead of the game for when family spends the weekend over Christmas. lol.)

    As I was vigorously cleaning and thinking about how much my back will ache tomorrow, I was thinking, instead of doing marathon deep cleaning when guests come, I need to intentionally “deep clean” after every meal. This would take so little time rather than trying to rub away months of grub.

    Thanks for sharing!

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