FEATURE — What does it mean to create a culture of wellness? Culture is defined as the behaviors and beliefs of a particular social, ethnic or age group. Each family has behaviors and beliefs surrounding food at home, at social events and during the holidays.
What is your family’s culture of wellness during the holidays or at any time? What is the focus?
Of course it can be fun to focus on food, and many families have holiday traditions surrounding food items. Maybe Grandma’s homemade Christmas candy is the best part of Christmas.
However, family traditions of food can make the holidays challenging when trying to “live well.”
So, what can you do to enjoy the food and fun of the holidays without offending family members?
One easy way to help everyone live well is to offer and bring a healthy dish to share at every party, or family gathering, during the holidays. Then, at the event, you can choose to eat your healthy item with two or three other choices, keeping portion sizes small.
Another tip is to spend most of your time visiting with family members. It will slow down your eating and give you time to build important relationships. Some family members may comment on your small portions or food choices. Smile and have a friendly, witty answer ready, or change the subject.
Here are a few small and simple ways to help create a culture of wellness during the holidays:
- Organize a family food drive or Sub for Santa, during the holidays
- Have people bring a picture instead of food to a holiday gathering; enjoy memories and strengthen relationships
- Keep disposable food containers on hand so everyone goes home with leftovers and there aren’t large amounts of food left with the host of the party
- Offer to share recipe ideas in a fun way, like creating a family cookbook with corresponding pictures of family events
- Buy the “Live Well” Cookbook as a healthy holiday gift for friends and family members.
Another way to promote wellness during the holidays is to inspire activity through fun games and activities. Play active games instead of sitting for hours at a table game, snacking while you play. Move your body. Examples of active games are charades, dancing, biking, hiking, running, walking, football, basketball, sledding, skiing, building a snowman or having a snowball fight.
Find the balance in working toward new traditions that create a family culture of wellness. Your example of living well and promoting a culture of wellness will have more of an impact than you might imagine.
Mary Brown is a clinical metabolic dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. Her passion is providing services that help people live the healthiest life possible, through the Live Well Center at Dixie Regional Medical Center.