The holiday season means tables piled high with food, and tons of sweets and candy everywhere. Many people anticipate weight-gain during the holiday season, but this doesn’t have to be you.  As we discussed in past articles, a healthy brain depends on a healthy diet.  Eating unhealthy food actually puts the body in a stressed state, since it has to struggle to process unfamiliar chemicals or highly engineered ingredients.  Stress in the body can lead to many different diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  With some good planning, you can find ways to make sure the holiday season doesn’t set your healthy lifestyle back.

For starters, you can encourage your family to get bundled up to go on a nice winter walk before holiday dinner.  It’s the perfect opportunity to have quality time with loved ones you might not get to see so often.  You can also encourage everyone to leave their cell phones at home so there will be more potential for conversation.  Most hiking trails and parks will be very quiet and free from crowds on these days.  This is a great way to get some exercise before dinner, which will elevate the mood and leave everyone feeling a better after the big meal.

Another great idea is to volunteer to make a healthy option for the dinner table, and make enough for everyone to try!  This is a particularly great idea for dessert.  You can make a light, fruit-based dessert that everyone will love, since they will be so full from dinner!  If you are hosting dinner yourself, you can be very mindful not to cook too much food, and make sure what you’re cooking is relatively healthful.  If you are serving food, try not to pressure anyone to eat more than they’re comfortable with.

It could also be fun to play games together during the day instead of just sitting around the living room.  Games are not just for kids – and they can be a great way to get everyone moving!  If there is snow on the ground, invite everyone to get outside and make a snowman, or have an impromptu snowball fight.  If you want to stay indoors, you can play Twister or do yoga together, or play games like Human Knot.  To play Human Knot, you make a circle with several people and hold hands with someone across the circle.  Once you have both hands connected to someone, you try to untangle.  This game gets everyone standing up and moving, problem solving together, and is lots of fun!

After the holidays if you have any additional time off work, you can plan to do outdoor activities with family and friends, or check out the holiday class schedule at the local gym.  These quiet days are also a good time to work on your meditation practice, breathing exercises, and self-care.  There are many meditation retreats that happen around the New Year, so research them now so you can reserve a spot early!

Here at Kaplan Brain and Body, we are offering free Brain Health Consultations this holiday season.  This is an amazing value and opportunity, so please email us at or call our office to book your appointment today.  We would love for you to become part of our healthy community!  If you are interested in Dr. Kaplan’s services, please contact us at 201-261-2150 or visit our website