Developing Healthy Holiday Traditions that Don’t Involve Food


Buffalo: Turkey trot

photo by Julio Gonzalez

Growing up, everything my family planned revolved around food. I remember that even on family vacations, we’d decide where to go for every meal when we were there, and then everything else was just filler between meals. For regular meals not revolving around a vacation or a holiday, we’d always talk about amazing food we’d had recently or planned to have soon while eating the current meal, and we’d never leave the table before knowing exactly when and what our next meal would be.

It’s probably not much of a surprise that I easily adopted this fixation of food on my own, and still struggle to think about it a little less than I am inclined to do naturally.

It’s also probably not much of a surprise that holiday meals in particular were talked about and planned out far in advance. Everyone would have a task and we’d all pass recipes and ideas back and forth to figure out exactly what to have on the table for the *perfect* meal.  There was rarely any thought given to anything outside of the meals that would make up our holidays – no emphasis on anything we could or should do together, other than eat.

Fast forward to the present, and things have remained fairly the same. We still divide and conquer holiday meals and still love to gush over amazing food or recipes we’ve tried recently while eating a meal (or doing just about anything else). Over the last few years in particular though, things have evolved a bit away from the food since both my sisters have had kids. Don’t get me wrong – there is still food celebration happening constantly – but it turns out young kids need and want more to do than just eat.

I’ve noticed that since kids have come into the picture, the holidays have become a lot more… fun. And it’s not fun because of the food on the table, but because kids bring such an innocent joy with the questions they ask, the things they like to do, and the things that make them laugh. Holidays become more about spending time together as a family, bonding with my niece and nephews, and doing things other than just eating.

And though the kids can’t be involved in everything that goes on outside the meals, I think just the fact that they are there helps all of us realize that there are other things outside of eating that we can do together as a family and enjoy.

This year for the first time, my family is taking on a new activity – one that I hope will become a tradition. My two sisters and I are running a Turkey Trot 5k together! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for so long, and it wasn’t until my oldest sister Heather got on board with running that we made the plans to do one together as sisters – and it will be her very first race! I’ve run a half marathon and a 10 mile race with my other sister Wendy, but Heather has never really had much interest. I’ll let you know how it goes!

There was still a LOT of emphasis on planning the food and putting together the perfect meal for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but there was also some planning and excitement that went into coordinating the 5k – and I am so excited to have that healthy tradition as a new part of my family, in addition to the rest of the traditions that will inevitably stick around surrounding the food!

Do you find at family holidays that the focus is largely on food for your family, too? Do you have any healthy traditions that don’t revolve around food?


Beth photoBe well!

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