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Have a Healthy Habit Holiday

Monday, November 21, 2022

It won’t be long until children leave the classroom behind for a couple of weeks during the holiday season to celebrate traditions and enjoy fun festivities. While it’s good to get out of the school routine, it’s a good idea to keep healthy habits in mind during the break. 


Jenni Klufa, Oklahoma State University Extension associate state specialist for youth programs, offers four steps to help stay on course with healthy eating habits this holiday season. 


Be intentional with healthy eating.


“Maintaining a balanced diet through the holiday season isn’t easy. The sweet treats are abundant this time of year and it can be hard to say no,” Klufa said. “Be intentional about balancing your favorite treats with more healthful options. Eat a fruit or vegetable for every sweet treat you consume. Understandably, those holiday cookies that come around once a year are hard to resist. And you don’t have to say no all season long. Just make sure you’re not skipping vegetables at meal time.” 


Also, staying hydrated is important. Make water available to the whole family every day to encourage proper hydration. 


Do something educational. 


Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. While schools are closed for the holidays, consider a trip to the local library or visit a science museum. Take time to sit down and read a book together. This can be especially fun if grandparents are visiting. 


“Because cooking is a big part of the holiday season, take the learning into the kitchen. Let children read the recipes and measure ingredients,” she said. “Older children can work on the holiday food budget.” 


Get plenty of sleep. 


Klufa said maintaining a regular schedule can be difficult during the holidays. Staying up and sleeping in may be popular but try to stick to a normal schedule when you can. 


“This will help prevent the adjustment from being so great following the holidays. It’s important to be flexible during this time of year but everyone still needs enough sleep to maintain good health,” she said. 


Be active. 


“The holiday season can be stressful. Being physically active not only plays an important role in overall health, but it also helps improve sleep and decreases stress,” Klufa said. “Who wouldn’t like to reduce their stress level during the holidays? Get the whole family involved in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity or exercise each day.” 


To help children maintain healthy habits during the holiday season, the Community Nutrition Education Program is partnering with schools to encourage students to become a CATCH MVP during the break. The Coordinated Approach to Child Health program has a calendar to help students keep track of their healthy choices during the holiday break. 


Klufa said students will keep track of three categories – (M) Moves and Stays Active; (V) Values Healthy Eating; and (P) Practices Healthy Habits. Each category has eight items from which children can choose to do. 


“The students are encouraged to keep track of their healthy choices over the holidays to help them stay healthy and active,” she said. “It can be easy to fall into the habit of snacking and watching too much television when out of the school routine. This calendar will help kids stay on track with their health and become a CATCH MVP.” 


Download the CATCH MVP Winter Break Calendar.

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