Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
Most families have holiday traditions, big and small. Unfortunately, not all of these traditions help create a healthy holiday for you and your family. However, traditions are a special part of the holiday season. Some simply emerge because they were so much fun the year before, and some have been passed down for generations. They might include building a gingerbread house, baking your favorite seasonal cookies, hosting and cooking a delicious meal, or gathering to watch a special holiday movie.
Often, the foods we associate with holiday traditions tend to be filled with sugar topped with more sugar. Sweets are everywhere this time of the year. Candies, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries are lurking around every corner, which leads to not only holiday weight gain but also depressed immune systems. And who wants to be sick over the holidays?! While we encourage you to celebrate the holidays in a way that feels most special to you, why not put a healthy spin on a tradition that you and your loved ones can do together?
The goal of a tradition is to create feelings of comfort and joy. A lot of things can inspire these warm, loving and happy memories besides sugary baked goods. Memories, nostalgia and cravings come from our fond experiences of our past. Try some of these ideas to inspire new holiday traditions that bring out those thoughts of fondful family moments of laughter and love in a healthy way.
Make crafts instead of food
Sometimes just the act of making something is memory enough. Light a candle or the fireplace and turn on some holiday songs to create a warm atmosphere. Make gifts or decorations together as a family. There are thousands of websites dedicated to DIY holiday crafts that you can find through a simple online search.
Host a healthy holiday
Many of us gather with friends and family to eat rich comfort food. To encourage others to bring healthier items to the gathering, have each attendee cook a recipe from Marpe to share with all at the holiday get-together.
Disconnect from your electronic devices
Replace screen time with face-to-face time. Create a rule where cell phones and TVs remain off during holiday celebrations. Crank up the holiday music instead, and spend time connecting with your loved ones.
Walk to see the lights
Many families drive around neighborhoods at night during the holiday season to check out the beautiful light displays. Instead of driving, bundle up and try a walking tour instead.
Create a new tradition
Try a new physical activity. If your weather permits you to, try snowshoeing or sledding. If not attend a holiday musical event, show or dance. Have your children create a holiday performance to act out in front of the guests that attend your event. Brainstorm things together as a family to try out.
What better way to end your holiday celebrations than by sharing what you’re thankful for? At the end of the night, go around the table and have each person say a few words. While we often get caught up in shopping and gift-giving, this is a wonderful way to think about what’s most important to you. Tell your family, friends, and loved ones how much they’re appreciated, and we guarantee you’ll instantly feel more cheerful!
Remember, traditions mean something different to everyone, but they always make this season more meaningful.