Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

The countdown to the holiday season is upon us, and holiday parties, sweet desserts, and delicious meals are right around the corner. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle this time of year may be a challenge, but it is possible. Keep healthy eating and physical activity part of your holiday season with these tips from the St. Louis District Dairy Council.

Keep bones strong by using nutrient-rich milk in your favorite hot drinks. For example, make hot chocolate with milk instead of water. Add a teaspoon of honey to a cup of milk and heat for a sweet steamer. Turn coffee into a latte by mixing a shot of espresso or strong coffee with a cup of milk. For an instant winter warm-up, pop a mug of chocolate milk in the microwave.

Another simple way to keep your body fueled during the season is to eat breakfast. Breakfast is the perfect time to work in serving of dairy, fruits, and whole grains. Add a festive touch to the morning meal by using eggnog as the liquid in recipes for pancakes, waffles, French toast and crepes. A holiday classic, eggnog is made with milk, which means it's rich in calcium. One 4-ounce serving of the holiday treat contains about 170 calories.

Boost healthy eating during the holidays by taking nutritious appetizers to parties and gatherings. Assemble platters of bright fruits and vegetables and serve with yogurt-based dips. Yogurt provides a powerful package of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein. For an easy dip, combine plain yogurt with ranch dressing mix, and serve with raw vegetables. Or, combine vanilla yogurt with cinnamon or pumpkin spice and serve with fresh fruit for a festive flare.

Make sure to use moderation as you enjoy delectable treats. Rather than snacking on a pile of holiday cookies with a soft drink, select just two cookies and pair them with a glass of ice-cold milk. Or enjoy them with a mug of steaming hot cocoa made with milk. You'll satisfy your sweet tooth and get several valuable nutrients. Also, store your goodies in non-see-through containers to help prevent temptation. Grab your treat and then seal the container right away.

Another important way to prevent holiday weight gain is to work in a workout. Exercise makes you feel great and allows you to enjoy holiday treats. Consider these simple ways to boost activity levels: Help decorate the house with Christmas cheer while listening to your favorite holiday tunes. Make shopping time an opportunity to add extra steps into your day. Gather the family and walk around the neighborhood to check out the pretty holiday lights.

Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to a healthy holiday season. For more information on the benefits of dairy foods, visit Dairy Council's website, or contact Kelly Maher, R.D., L.D.N., with St. Louis District Dairy Council, 325 North Kirkwood Road Suite 222, St. Louis Mo, 63144 or call (314) 835-9668, or e-mail her at