print header

Tips for a healthier holiday season

The holiday season has officially begun but it doesn’t have to be a vacation from maintaining your health and well-being. Read on for tips for how to give yourself and those you care about the gift of a safer and healthier holiday season.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate by gathering with friends and family and it often involves food traditions and enjoying food.

Canada’s Food Guide offers some ideas to help you make nutritious food choices during the holiday season, including the following:

Choose and offer nutritious foods

Whether you are hosting an event, attending a gathering, or preparing a dish to share, consider a variety of nutritious foods that allow you and your guest to make nutritious choices. Choose whole grain foods, incorporate plenty of fruit and vegetables and make water your drink of choice.

Practice mindful eating

Busy schedules and food-centered activities during the holidays can lead to eating when you’re not hungry, making less nutritious food choices and overeating. You can practice mindful eating by sitting down, taking time to eat, and focusing on the experience. Remember to eat for nourishment and satisfaction and pay attention to your body’s sensory cues and how you feel. 

Enjoy your food

Part of eating mindfully is appreciating and enjoying the food that you are eating. This is especially true during holidays and events when the food that’s offered or served may serve a cultural or traditional purpose.

When cooking and sharing your favourite holiday dishes you can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness for your family and friends by following some basic food safety tips.

  • Clean: Wash hands, contact surfaces (like kitchen counters) and utensils often to avoid the spread of bacteria.
  • Cook: Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by cooking foods to the proper internal temperature.
  • Chill: Keep cold foods cold. Bacteria can grow rapidly when food is allowed to sit in the so-called danger zone between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F).
  • Separate:  Keep raw foods separate from cooked and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Don’t neglect your physical activity during the holidays. Besides being good for your overall health, exercise can help you lower stress, increase the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins) and forget about your worries for a while.

Create holiday traditions that emphasize being active and safe with the whole family:

  • Go for a walk or a hike with friends and family.
  • Get outside with the kids. Build a snowman or make snow angels.
  • Hit the slopes. Go sledding, skiing, or snowboarding.

For more information on physical activity, visit the health unit’s web pages or consult the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for recommendations on various types of physical activity.

Some people may choose to consume alcohol and cannabis while celebrating the holiday season and the new year. While the safest option is to not consume these substances, you can reduce the risk of potential harms by using in moderation and understanding the health and safety risks.

If you choose to drink, the Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) can help you decide when, where, why and how. These guidelines are meant to reduce the harms associated with alcohol. If using non-medical cannabis, make informed choices for safer use by consulting Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.

Do not drive when you are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, and do not allow your family members or friends to drive while impaired by any type of legal or illicit drug. If you drink alcohol and/or use drugs, designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use a ride share service to protect yourself and others on the road.

As you prepare to gather with friends and family during the holiday season, remember that we are seeing higher than normal rates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza in our communities, in addition to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 infection. To protect against this ‘triple threat’ of infection and severe illness, the health unit strongly recommends using multiple layers of protection against these viruses.

  The layers of protection include:

  • Knowing your risk by checking the Simcoe Muskoka COVID-19 Community Risk Level, and determining the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 infection and serious illness.
  • Wearing a mask in indoor public settings, including schools and child care settings. This recommendation includes children two to five years of age if they can tolerate a mask.
  • Getting the annual flu shot and staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Staying home if you are ill and keeping children home from school or child care if they are ill.
  • Screening yourself and children daily using the Screening Tool and following its instructions.
  • Washing hands and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.

Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...