Holiday Health imageThe story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer offers a number of life lessons for all of us; lessons like believing in yourself, appreciating differences and setting a goal and sticking with it. If you delve a little deeper into this classic holiday story, you’ll also find lessons about good nutrition, proper exercise and reducing stress. 

Eat Well, Jingle Bell – A memorable line from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is “Eat, papa, eat,” spoken by Mrs. Claus to Santa Claus.  Most of us assume Mrs. Claus was urging Santa to fatten up for Christmas. In fact, she was telling Santa to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Follow these tips for enjoying holiday foods without the guilt and a Santa-size waistline:

  • If you host a holiday party, provide healthy snacks such as wholegrain or pita chips with salsa, or fresh-cut vegetables with guacamole.
  • If you’re a guest, offer to bring a dish such as baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with orange juice and cinnamon or a vegetable casserole.
  • Eat smaller portions and slow your pace of eating. Give your stomach time to realize it is “full.”
  • Don’t loiter by the buffet table at a party. Instead of hanging by the hors d’oeuvres, get out there and mingle like Kris Kringle.
  • Holidays can leave little time to prepare meals. Fast food is convenient but most of it is high in fat and calories. Prepare and freeze healthy meals ahead of time.

Get your Deer in Gear – Rudolph and the other reindeer practiced their flying and played “reindeer games” to get and stay in shape. With holiday bustle it is easy to put exercise on the back burner. Here are a few tips to help you rock the holidays with festive physicality.

  • Having difficulty getting in 30 continuous minutes of exercise? Divide the exercise into 10 to 15-minute segments.
  • If you drive to a shopping mall, park in spaces farthest from the stores.
  • Plan parties that are activity-oriented. Take a group walk or hike, play horseshoes, softball or pickle ball or go bowling. Play a reindeer game.
  • If you like holiday lights and decorations, go sightseeing on foot instead of by car or sleigh.

Bumbles Bounce – When the Abominable Snowman (aka Bumble) fell off a cliff, it appeared he was a goner. He miraculously reappears later in the story, not only alive but free of stress. Rudolph asks Yukon Cornelius, who also went over the cliff, how they survived. Yukon simply replies: “Bumbles bounce.”

Bouncing back from holiday stress will be easier if you practice these simple techniques.

  • Unlike Santa Claus, you can’t take care of the world. Limit your commitments. Focus on what really matters. Temper your expectations.
  • Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night (Count dancing sugar plums if that helps.)
  • Avoid overspending. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts to create happy memories.
  • Schedule relaxation into your day, even if it’s just a few deep breaths.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.

The Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing in offers group classes and individual consultations on proper nutrition, exercise, weight management and stress reduction. Learn more at

Take good care of your health and like Rudolph, “You’ll go down in history.”

Rhonda Zonoozi is an exercise physiologist and certified health coach. Tracy Garrett is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Both work at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, 14719 W. Grand Ave., Surprise. (623) 832-WELL (9355)


(Originally published Dec. 19, 2014; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)

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