You can eat healthy during the HOLIDAYS!

Healthy eating is possible during the holidays…by

Eating healthy during the holiday season can be difficult, but with a little planning, moderation during celebrations is doable.

Many of us have already begun a holiday season full of food. It is really wonderful to have celebrations to attend and have festive cookie platters and goody jars at every stop, but if this goes on for a full month, these treats can really add up. Let me say that I think that indulging during a celebration is not only normal, but even a good idea.

I just want to acknowledge that some of us have to limit how often these indulgences occur and give a few simple tips to help navigate a season of decadent eating.

Make a plan. Planning when it comes to food is the best way to prevent over eating. If you have three get-togethers in one day, eating everything at each stop is going to lead to stomach problems, if nothing else. You probably know what your favorites are at each gathering and may have been waiting a whole year to enjoy them again. Stick to small portions of your favorites. You will be satisfied since you got what you were waiting for, but will not be too full to eat at your next stop. If you are worried someone will be offended that you did not eat enough, just explain you have other stops and make a really big deal out of their best dish, whatever your favorite may be (another perk to that is that they will probably remember it is your favorite and be sure to always include it).

Eat before. It may seem counter-intuitive to eat before you go to a big meal, but if you skip meals in anticipation of a big meal you will usually consume even more calories by the end of the day. Eat breakfast and lunch or snacks depending on the time of the gathering. You should eat light, lower calorie foods if you are planning for a really heavy meal. Snack on veggies with hummus, a small salad with a hard boiled egg or an apple and a cheese stick for a healthy way to be hungry, but not ravenous.

Be active. During the holidays, as well as throughout the year, plan regular physical activity for yourself. Being active helps boost your metabolism. It can also be a fun way to spend time with your family and relieve stress, which seems to come with the holiday season. Even at the gathering it can be nice to get some fresh air and move around a bit. Keeping a practical pair of shoes in the car helps to facilitate impromptu walks, and getting out with a loved one is a great way to share a laugh or vent, depending on how the gathering is going.

Bring your own dish. I love potlucks and think it is always a great idea to offer to bring a dish when invited for a meal just to take a little of the workload off the host or hostess. If you have special dietary considerations this is especially helpful both for you and potentially for the host as well if they are aware of your dietary needs but unsure of how to meet them. Bringing one dish that is healthier, or at least healthier for you, ensures you will have at least one food to enjoy guilt free, and often others will enjoy it too, regardless of nutrition. These dishes can still be festive and tasty. There are many great ideas online, but some things to consider are vegetable trays with a couple of bell pepper cutouts (with cookie cutters) that reflect the holiday, fruit kabobs or a wild rice salad with colorful vegetables and dried cranberries.

Eating, like everything else, during the holidays should be fun. Following these steps can help make healthy holiday eating more attainable, while still being satisfying. Happy holidays!

Jordy Kivett is a nutrition educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. For more information, contact her at 561-7450.

Fun Holiday Stress Reducers!

Stress release can come in many forms but
thanks to here are some fun and funny ways to deal with stress!
Holidays are great, but holidays are also great stress producers. That’s why we offer a few funny holiday stress reduction tips.

1. Stress Management Games – Offline

A stress management game can boost spirits and reduce holiday stress rapidly. Admittedly, some counselors do not support competition in your efforts to relieve stress. There can be stress of competition in a game, but that is eustress, or good stress. Eustress overcomes bad stress – distress. So competition itself can be beneficial if used in a light manner.

Funny holiday story. This stress management game will help all of you as long as you keep it going and refuse to put down any player. The first begins the story with a single sentence. Example: “Once upon a time, there was a funny holiday called _______.” The next person adds the name of the funny holiday and adds another sentence. Keep taking turns until the story reaches some conclusion – or everyone is ready to stop.

Funny picture puzzle. Involve two or more people in assembling an amusing picture puzzle. Technically not a stress management game, a puzzle can turn your thoughts away from holiday stress. For a group, set up two puzzle tables, with a group at each one. The stress management game feature here is that the first group to find 25 pieces will be served refreshments by the other group. Eustress will kick in, and happiness will take over.

2. Stress Management Games – Online

Online games can be a great way to reduce stress. Steer clear of addictive games, though, which are not stress management games. Draining time from your schedule, addictive games actually create more stress. The following are a few stress management games we like:

Gardenmaker. Create your own flower, funny or beautiful. Create a whole garden of holiday flowers. This stress management game can be played while you “take five” and will leave you more relaxed. At
Kaleidoscope. Build your own funny holiday kaleidoscope, piece by piece, and watch it become more stunning as you go. Moving kaleidoscope shows each addition as you work. Let the children try this stress management game and you all will reduce stress! At

Webhangman. Click on the letters and guess the words. All of the answers are related to stress and stress management. When you answer correctly, this stress management game rewards you with colorful fireworks.
Ideally, a stress management game will be light-hearted, with little competition. Such stress management games will call forth eustress, which produces happiness. Eustress will reduce your holiday dis-stress.

Are you a candidate for HOLIDAY STRESS?

Take this quiz to find out if you are a candidate to experience stress this season.


Answer True or False to each of these questions to develop a sense of how you will be impacted by the holidays.

Give yourself 1 point for each false statement.

  1. I look forward to the holidays with genuine pleasure most of the time.
  2. I know how to set a budget for holiday gifts and stick with it.
  3. Christmas shopping and spending a lot of money on my family and friends are not the most important part of this season.
  4. I am able to be very realistic about what to expect from myself over the holidays.
  5. I am very realistic of what I can expect from others over the holidays.
  6. I have a partner to celebrate the holidays with me.
  7. My partner and I get along well and enjoy each other’s company.
  8. My partner and I work well as a team most of the time.
  9. I have family that I enjoy spending time with over the holidays.
  10. My family likes and appreciates me.
  11. My in-laws (and/or step-family) like and appreciate me.
  12. I have close friends that I enjoy spending time with over the holidays.
  13. I take part in some comforting and pleasant holiday rituals and look forward to them every year.
  14. Getting approval is not very important to me.
  15. I know healthy ways to cope if I start to feel overwhelmed.
  16. I have ways of giving to others in my community.
  17. I am not overly scheduled and have a pretty good balance of work, fun and relaxation.
  18. I know how to say “no”.
  19. I am able to schedule “down” time for myself on a regular basis.
  20. I eat healthily, drink alcohol moderately or not at all and get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.

Give yourself 2 points for each false statement.

  1. I am not providing care for any ill or disabled family member.
  2. I have not had any major losses over the last 2 years.
  3. I have enough money to cover my basic needs.
  4. I had a reasonably happy childhood with fond memories of the holidays.
  5. I am never affected by the “Holiday Blues”.
  6. My health, physically, mentally and emotionally is good.


1 or 2 points. Good for you. You have a reasonable level of stress and, with healthy self awareness and self care, you should be able to really enjoy this time.

3-4 points.
You are clearly a candidate for burning out over the holidays. Talk over your situation with someone you can count on to be a good sounding board or offer simple and specific advice for how to relax and enjoy this time.

5 or more points. Think seriously about what you can do to change your situation, if possible. Put out the red flag and wave it.

Think about who you can call on to be there for you? Decide what do you need to do to get support and relief? Muster your courage or let down your guard and ask for help.