Can You Have “Non-Food Fun” this Season?


The holidays are a hoot, but sadly they can also put people into a 6-week long nutritional tailspin…The fear of eating less than healthy foods, and the guilt from overindulging, can take the fun out of wonderful, long standing ┬átraditions with friends and family. So what can you do? Feign illness when your friend invites you for her annual cookie decorating/champagne sipping party? Certainly not! You don’t need to stop adhering to holiday traditions, but you can also create some new ones.

Instead of inviting a handful of my girlfriends for wine and cheese last year, I hosted a care package party for our college and boarding school age kids. We met in the morning from 10:00-12:00 (most people arrived in workout clothes), and assembled care packages while we listened to Christmas music and snacked on fruit, teas, and coffee. Everyone preferred this idea to my previous cocktail parties and begged it to become an annual gathering…and the recipients of the packages were absolutely thrilled too.

Maybe replace an annual 3 hour lunch in the city with your “bestie” for a “Christmas shopping date”. Meet at a mall between your houses right when it opens, wear your running shoes and have your shopping lists in hand. Divide and conquer when necessary and then head back to one of your houses to wrap the gifts. Then have a salad or soup, put your feet up, and bask in your accomplishments.

One of my friends and I meet every year to deliver toys and clothing to a shelter in the Bronx, and then stay to help distribute the items to families. It is a great way to spend a few hours together and also provide a valuable service which helps others. And way more meaningful than meeting for Dim Sum in the city. Though we do always enjoy a glass of wine together afterwards…it is Christmas after all!

Finally, a friend and I have swapped meeting for a holiday brunch hosted at her club, for bundling up with our dogs and walking the 5 mile loop on its golf course instead. We enjoy the exercise almost as much as the company, and treat ourselves to a cappuccino when we can walk no further…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to your mother in law’s on a Sunday afternoon to help her trim the tree, drink eggnog, and eat peppermint bark. In fact, I would be disappointed if you DID NOT go, but try incorporating a few new “wellness oriented” traditions to your routine this year as well. And perhaps you can plan the 5 mile walk for the morning of Grandma’s tree trimming…Enjoy the season!

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