With the holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to think about consciously planning to make better holiday choices that will help us reduce stress, and stay healthy and well-rested – that may sound like an impossibility to some of you, but there really are many simple little things you can do that, overall, add up to a big increase in your well-being and happiness at this hectic time of year.

   Healthy Holiday Choices

I’m convinced that with justa little planning, we can really reduce our holiday stress and the fatigue that goes with it, and emerge in early January feeling rested, refreshed and ready for the New Year - - - maybe even without having gained so much as an ounce!

It all boils down to the usual basics –  good nutrition (but not tooooo much), enough physical activity, enough good quality sleep, and smart stress management or reduction.

Be proactive
Identify all the situations (family gatherings, dinners at friends’, office parties etc.) that make it difficult for you to eat healthy food and a healthy amount during the holiday season.  Make a plan for staying on track in every situation.

Stay active

  • Don’t mistake being “busy” for being “active.”  You still need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.  If you’re pressed for time, you can break it up into a few shorter sessions during the day.1 
  • If you don’t have time to go to the gym, it’s easy to substitute walking or jogging (outside is ideal, as long as the weather permits) for this busy season.
  • Increase the amount of walking you do by taking a parking space farther from the store or mall.  Walk briskly when you shop.

Splurge wisely

  • Decide which foods are really worth splurging on, and leave the rest on the table.  One rule of thumb to help you decide is, “what can I get only at this time of year?”   Concentrate on only those foods and save the others for another time.
  • Similarly, budget wisely.  If you’re going to a party at night, watch your food intake during the day.  However, do not skip meals, just cut back on how much you eat earlier in the day, and be sure to make healthy choices.
  • Enjoy a healthy pre-party snack so you don’t arrive famished and eat too much of the wrong things.
  • Cut portion sizes.  Cut pies into 10 slices, not 6 – 8.  Cut brownies and cakes into bite-sized pieces and bake smaller cookies and mini muffins.
  • Use a smaller plate.  Make just one trip to the food table, and fill only a salad-sized plate with your favourites.  This helps you control portion size.
  • Choose whole foods.  Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains are examples of good choices.  Avoid processed foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates as much as you can.
  • Drink lots of water.  Do this especially before you eat – water takes up space and you’ll feel full sooner.  But drink water all day long to stay hydrated and avoid any number of ills, e.g. headaches, asthma attacks, digestive problems.  Alternate a glass of water with an alcoholic beverage.  Don’t fill up on empty calories in sweet juices and soft drinks.


  • Rest up.  Don’t skimp on sleep during the holidays – you’ll feel stressed out and run down, plus you’ll increase your risk of catching any flu and colds making the rounds.  Plan your days so you always have time for 8 hours of good quality sleep.
  • Dim your tablet’s lights and sleep better: You may have heard that the light from a tablet or smart phone can interfere with the production of melatonin if you read at bed time.  However, a Mayo Clinic study has shown that when people dimmed the brightness settings on their tablets and held them at least 14 inches from their faces, their bodies were more likely to produce melatonin normally. 

Stress management/reduction

  • Budget your time.  You don’t have to stay to the end of every party or attend every gathering.  Look at your list of events and obligations and see where you can cut back on time, energy and money.
  • Stay positive.  There will be times when even the most disciplined person overeats or misses a workout.  Don’t worry, just get back on track.  Staying positive is half the battle.
  • De-stress.  You’ll enjoy the holidays more if you’re calm and relaxed.  Make stress relief a priority by journaling, meditating, and exercising regularly.  When things get hectic, take a step back and refocus on what matters most.
  • Simplify gifts.  Your family and friends probably feel just as overwhelmed about gifts as you do.  Instead of buying for everyone, draw names from a hat or give to a charity in someone’s honor.
  • Stay organized.  Keep a running list of errands, groceries and gifts, and make a plan to finish as many things in as few trips a possible.
  • Shop when you’re full.  This helps you to avoid overeating at the food court.  Carry some healthy snacks with you, as well as water.
  • Think before you bite.  Before you bite into every irresistible snack that you encounter, stop and think. How you’ll feel after you eat them?  Is the taste really worth it?  Could you enjoy just a small amount instead?
  • Focus on people.  Instead of food, focus on your family and friends, activities, and other traditions that make the holidays meaningful.
  • Give back.  Too often we focus on ourselves, rather than other people.  Whether you donate your time or money, don’t forget those in need.
  • Set realistic goals.  No one can expect to change a lifetime’s worth of habits overnight.  Select a few reasonable goals and create an action plan to achieve them. 
  • Do something special for you.  Take a day off to celebrate you!  Do something nice for yourself – whatever you want that will make you feel happy and relaxed.

Above all, have fun!  Too often we focus on all we have to get done, and how busy and tired we are.  Try to change your mind set, and focus on enjoying the season, relaxing and just having a good time!
Just think – if you can get through the holiday season without putting on weight, your New Year’s resolutions won’t have any reason to include a diet!

Megs, Maria and I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and fun holiday season!

For additional information, please email; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, additional information about products, order products, and see information about our Clinic.

  1. Nichols N. 31 tips for a healthier holiday. Accessed November 27, 2013.
  2. Laboy Y. Healthy holiday tips.  Accessed November 27, 2013.
  3. Cohen L. Don’t make these common holiday eating mistakes.  Accessed November 27, 2013.
  4. Chamerlik E. Three simple choices for remaining healthy this holiday season.  Accessed November 27, 2013.
  5. Dim your tablet’s lights & sleep better. Chatelaine. December 2013, p. 74.
The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.


Ramila Padiachy
Ramila's Healing Arts Clinic