Stress-Proof Your Holiday Nutrition Plan


Marygrace Zetkulic, M.D.
Hackensack University Medical Center

Thanksgiving is behind us, and with just over a month until Christmas, the "most wonderful" (and "most nerve racking") time of year is officially in full swing.

Family. Finances. A tree in your house.

Our holiday to-do list can feel immense when it seems to hit us all at once, and it's normal to want to quell our jangled nerves with some of those glorious holiday pickin' foods. 

And while it's fine to give in sometimes, it's important to know the difference between occasionally indulging and seeking solace in stress-induced snacking.

Start at the source and curb holiday stress with these tips from Marygrace Zetkulic, M.D., director of Medical Education in the Department of Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.

  • Discuss plans in advance. If you can’t be with one branch of the family for the holidays, breaking the news early can prevent hurt feelings. If you have a child returning from college, don’t focus entirely on his or her visit. This can help prevent the January letdown.

  • Don’t feel you have to perform every holiday activity. Give yourself permission to let some things slide, like that seven-step holiday recipe. Feeling hassled by housework? Ask a friend to help you bake or decorate, then return the favor.

  • Don’t budge on your budget. Small, thoughtful gifts can bring great delights and prevent post-holiday financial woes.

  • Don’t do all your heavy lifting at the mall. Try to move your body every day. Give yourself the gift of a yoga class or exercise video.

  • Have a strategy for family get-togethers. For example, plan your polite-but-firm response to that nosy relative with the knack for asking uncomfortable questions.

  • Find a volunteer opportunity or reach out to a relative or neighbor who needs assistance.

“Even if only for a few hours, volunteering can take the focus off your own holiday tasks and remind you how good it feels to help others,” adds Dr. Zetkulic.