Published on November 29, 2018

Tips for a healthy and peace filled Holiday season

By Teresa Farrell, Registered and Licensed Dietician at Essentia Health.

Teresa Farrell, Registered and Licensed Dietician

We all love the holidays but most of us find it’s also a very hectic time of year, often too hectic leaving us tired and cranky. We don’t want that! So, how do we maintain our health and sanity and truly find peace and joy in the season?

I believe it’s all about balance. Really, truly looking at what is important to you during the holiday season and maybe letting go of some things. Do you really need to buy a gift for your second cousin on your Mom’s side?

Maintaining your health should always be a priority, yes, even during the holidays. It’s okay to splurge a little but overdoing it can leave us feeling guilty and groggy. Too many parties, too much food, too many sweets, too much alcohol and too little sleep can drag us down! You’ll feel better eating less rich foods and sweets and more fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll also feel better drinking plenty of water and less soda and alcohol.

It’s a good idea to pace yourself during the holidays. Decide which parties and events you want to attend or host. Just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean you need to continue the habit. It’s okay to say no. You can also pace yourself with gift giving - how many people you buy for and how much you buy. This can make it a lot easier on the pocketbook as well! Shopping early can help alleviate the last-minute rush to fulfill your list.

Always important is sleep. Don’t skimp on your ZZZZ’s. Without adequate rest we’re less likely to exercise the next day and our willpower to eat fresh, tasty food goes down and we may very well become grumpy! Do keep in mind that alcohol adversely affects our sleep. It may help you fall asleep, but we tend to stay in the lighter stages of sleep vs the deep restful sleep. We also tend to wake up more during the night and we may become dehydrated, all contributing to waking up feeling less refreshed than we’d like.

If you don’t meditate or practice mindfulness, now might be a good time to start. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the day to close our eyes and breathe deeply and clear your mind is a good way to start the day. Doing this throughout the day and before bed can be a good stress reliever. Focus on and slow down your breathing. It usually doesn’t take long to calm our mind and body.

Remember to keep things simple and don’t sweat the small stuff.

May you have a peaceful and joyous holiday season!

Christmas Vegetable Tree





Cherry tomatoes

Star fruit, 1 (or yellow pepper strips)

Optional: yellow peppers


Start by washing all the vegetables and star fruit. Cut broccoli flowerets and cauliflower into roughly 1 inch pieces, cut carrots into strips (you will only use a few for the actual tree). Slice the star fruit so that you see the star shape in each slice. Use a large platter to arrange the vegetables on.

Place cauliflower pieces on the bottom of a vertically placed platter for snow. Next use carrot sticks for the tree trunk. For the main part of the tree arrange broccoli flowerets in the shape of an evergreen. Use the cherry tomatoes as decoration on the tree. A slice of star fruit will be the star on the top of the tree (or yellow pepper strips arranged to resemble a star). Yellow pepper strips also can be arranged as garland, and the extra star fruit slices can add a nice touch to your tree as well. There are endless variations to this basic guide. Have fun with it! Children and grandchildren enjoy this project.

A reduced calorie dip, such as the one below or one of your choice can be served with your vegetable tree.

Vegetable Dip


1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk

1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon salt


Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, mustard, honey, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.

Tip: no buttermilk? Adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk is a good substitute

Nutrition information per 2 1/2 tablespoons dip and 1 cup of vegetables:

Calories: 60

Fat: 1 gm

Saturated fat: 0

Carbohydrate: 11 gm

Fiber 2 gm

Protein 3 gm

Sodium 225 mg

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