Panhandle Perspectives - Healthy holiday traditions

Panhandle Perspectives
It’s possible to enjoy the holidays in a healthy way – consider little changes such as healthy baking methods that use less fat and added sugar and more whole grains and other healthy ingredients. Eat a variety of foods, but manage portion sizes; and consider starting active holiday traditions.
December 21, 2020

Lincoln, Neb. —Sweet treats and celebrations are an important part of family traditions during the holidays, but can make it more difficult to maintain healthy habits. With a little thought and planning, it’s possible to include those family traditions into a healthy holiday and then ring in a healthy and happy New Year.

Use MyPlate USDA nutritional recommendations. Focus on variety within all five food groups – in recommended amounts. Think about what goes on a plate of food. Fill half the plate with vegetables and fruits. Include about 3 ounces of protein, about the size of a deck of cards. Grains may be in the form of whole grain breads, cereals, rice or pasta. Add fat-free or low-fat dairy such as milk, yogurt or cheese. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats. Reduce sodium intake. Support healthy eating patterns in the home, at work and in the community.

Bake healthy. Use applesauce in place of half of the oil or butter. Use half the sugar and add spices for added flavor. Reduce the salt in recipes that do not require yeast. Use healthy ingredients such as whole-grain flour and oatmeal.

Read labels. Check food labels to watch for added sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Many food items are available in low-sodium options.

Watch portion sizes. Enjoy favorite holiday foods in moderation. Smaller portions will have less fat, sugar and calories.

Be active. Plan fun activities to get the whole family moving. Consider a nature walk, Frisbee, Hula Hoop or a game of basketball. Games to play indoors include freeze dance, and sock skating on hardwood floors. Get creative and invent an activity to increase heartrate and have some family fun.

Check out these articles at for staying active during the winter:

9 Tips for Staying Active over the Winter Holidays:

Keep Your Family Active during Winter Months:

Adopt an active habit. December is a great time to develop an active habit or two that can carry into the New Year. Consider walking, yoga or strength-training exercises. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Reduce stress. This year, many people will experience added stress from the pandemic on top of the traditional holiday stress. Here are some simple ways to reduce or cope with stress: practice simple acts of kindness, learn a new hobby or skill, Zoom or FaceTime with family or friends and get adequate sleep.

Add some humor. Laughter and humor are great therapies for the mind and body. Watch a funny movie or short video clips. Children and pets often have ways of making us smile. Find humor in everyday life and be open to laughing at yourself.

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