Seven tips for spreading cheer, not chocolate, this holiday season

‘Tis the season for overindulging on treats! If you’re hoping to make it through the holidays without adding a notch onto your belt, get out of the mindset that cookies, candies, and treats are the reason for the season.

To be jolly without waking up to a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, try these seven tips for spreading cheer and joy (instead of sugar and fat) this year:

  1. Write a heartfelt note letting the person know how much you appreciate them.
  2. Have your kids create handmade crafts that the recipient will cherish.
  3. Make a small donation in the recipient’s name to a meaningful charity.
  4. Offer to wrap gifts (or do some other needed chore) for an elderly neighbor or a friend with small children who may not have the time or energy to do it themselves.
  5. If you can’t give up the notion of delivering holiday goodies, try this recipe for Spiced Spanish Almonds instead of the usual cookies or candy. Or take it up a notch and deliver a meal to a neighbor who may not have time to cook.
  6. Is there a coworker you’ve been meaning to get to know better? Invite them to lunch to spend some quality time away from the office.
  7. Instead of an office potluck, try organizing a food drive to collect nonperishable food items for those in need (follow these easy steps from the Oregon Food Bank). Similar ideas include a toy drive or a coat drive. Your coworkers will still come together during the holidays, but with a more meaningful and helpful outcome.

If you’re looking for more ways to give back this season, check out this great calendar of volunteer opportunities in Portland. For a special and memorable day, you and your kids can deliver holiday meals to those in need or spend an afternoon helping at the food bank, then take a drive that evening to look at Christmas lights—maybe you’ll even create a new holiday tradition.

Enjoy the holidays – see you in 2014!


Tracy Severson is an outpatient clinical dietitian at OHSU. She moved to Portland from Tucson in 2010, and has worked at OHSU since 2011.

Tracy works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.