Making the holidays healthier doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, taking the time now to consciously choose holiday traditions that involve movement, mental health and nutritious foods will mean fewer worries when it’s time to celebrate.
Bringing health to the holidays can be as simple — or as elaborate — as you want it to be. From spending time with the whole family to making hearty, healthy meals together, there are many nutritious ways to make this season bright.
Here are a few new holiday traditions to try inspired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program.
1. Host a family holiday party where your kids are the chefs.
In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, remember to slow down and spend time with family. Pick a date to have a party at home with just your immediate family. Download the USDA’s template to help your kids plan the menu and steer them in the direction of making healthier dishes. Deck the halls and break out your best dinnerware to really make the evening special, and make sure to help out in the kitchen if your kids need it.
2. Plan a staycation.
Summer doesn’t have to be the only time for vacations to happen. Try staying in for a few days this winter. Give yourself and your family space to rest and spend a little time together by keeping your schedule clear. Bake and decorate cookies together, wrap presents or take time to reflect on the past year as a mental health check-in. Unplug from your electronics for a day and have a family game or movie marathon.
3. Go walking in a winter wonderland.
Staying active during the winter may seem unappealing because of the cold, but it can actually be a lot of fun. Snowball fights and sledding are activities you can only do during the winter, and they include the whole family. Even lower energy activities like building a snowman or going for a walk can provide a mood-boost. In Arkansas, snow is never guaranteed, but Soirée has a great list of holiday light displays around central Arkansas. Looking at holiday lights provides a great reason to get out for a little exercise in the crisp weather and is an activity worthy of your staycation itinerary. Learn more about recommended activity levels by reading the USDA’s Move Your Way fact sheet.
The MyPlate program has great resources for the whole year, but they also have a few that are specifically designed for the holidays. Be sure to check out the MyPlate Holiday Makeover infographic, their suggestions for different ways to cook a turkey and their suggestions for turning resolutions into real solutions.
This holiday season, remember that health isn’t just about food. Setting aside time to rest and stay active are also important for staying healthy. Choosing to focus on the memories you’re making while making decisions that will benefit you in the future is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones this year.