Don’t Let the Holidays Derail Your Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy_LifestylesNovember is a great time of the year, with the leaves changing and our attention turning to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  This month is also National PTAs Healthy Lifestyles Month – a time when PTAs are encouraged to celebrate health and wellness in their schools and communities.

Many PTAs may think: “How can I possibly think about promoting healthy eating and physical activity during a time of year that brings families together to eat lots of delicious food, watch football, and stay warm and cozy inside?”  Families may think: “It’s simply not possible to eat healthy or have time to exercise until after the New Year.”  And, everyone may think: “Healthy food tastes bad and exercising is too hard.”

Being committed to health and wellness doesn’t mean being the food or exercise police, serving tasteless meals, or depriving your family of the treats that make the holidays so special and fun.  It means creating an environment both at home and at school, every day, that makes the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.  It’s about balancing our calories and moving our bodies.

PTAs across the county are showing their commitment to health and wellness by participating in Fire Up Your Feet, organizing community turkey trots, and hosting healthy cooking classes for families, to name a few.  How can this commitment be continued on Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to overeating and napping on the couch in a turkey slumber? The answers may be easier and more enjoyable than you think, and can be applied to everyday, not just the holidays.

  1. Before you head to the grocery store, plan your Thanksgiving meal together as a family.  Try to follow the My Plate  guidelines, where half of your plate is fruits and vegetables and the rest will be divided between protein and whole grains.  Here’s a great side dish recipe.
  2. Once dinner is ready to be served, set up all of the food in the kitchen versus having all of it on the table. This helps prevent people from “grazing” or getting another plate full of food when they’re already full.
  3. Before you watch football on TV, play a game of touch football outside as a family.  If it’s snowing, build a snowman.  If you’re stuck indoors, have a dance competition.

For more ideas for how to celebrate Healthy Lifestyles month, visit

I am so thankful for all that you do to keep our kids healthy and safe, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.

Heather Parker is the Senior Manager of Health & Safety for National PTA in Alexandria, VA. Contact Heather at


  1. Rainey Wikstrom says:

    Thanks Heather for this great article. If we make the healthy choice the norm both at home and at school, then it sets our families up for success during these special holiday moments. We can enjoy our special treats without derailing our health.

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