Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

By Debra Staton, Wellness Coordinator for the Arkansas Health Network
pumpkin custard

The holiday season has officially started, and with it comes gatherings which usually revolve around food. Friends and family start sharing traditions. Tables are filled with scrumptious and perhaps sometimes not so healthy choices. 

To many, this time of year is a struggle and they completely lose sight of any healthy goals they might have been working on. However, there are ways to incorporate healthy habits and still enjoy holiday food. You don’t have to deprive yourself! Just learn to balance your plate with different types of food so that you don’t completely overdo it.

For instance, if you have an exercise routine, keep it up. If you have not been in a routine, this is a good time to start. For instance, before or after a meal, take a brisk walk. Ask a friend or relative to join you on a stroll or gather the family together and toss a football around. Not only will you be moving, laughing and having fun, but just think of those feel-good endorphins that help improve your mood!

What about portions? This is a good time to practice portion control. Balance is the key…Maybe you have been looking forward to those amazing pies ever since you smelled them baking early in the morning. Pick your favorite dessert and have a small portion. Or, if you can’t simply choose, have a very small slice of each. 

Drink plenty of water! This is important at all times, but try to be mindful during the holidays. If you allow yourself to get dehydrated, you might find yourself craving those sugary sweets even more. Try healthy dips/hummus for snacking. Reach for something healthy! 

Check out the recipe below for a healthy dessert. More to come in the weeks ahead!

Gingersnap Pumpkin Custard

Serves: 8


  • 1 cup broken
  • 1 cup broken gingersnap
  • Cookie pieces (12 small cookies)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Gently oil 8 ramekins and divide the broken cookie pieces evenly in the bottom of the bowls.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients, except nuts, in a large bowl. With an electric blender, mix until well distributed and smooth.
  4. Evenly distribute the pumpkin mixture over the cookie pieces, sprinkle with nuts and place ramekins in a 9×13 pan. Fill pan with water to about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Custard is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove ramekins from pan and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Per serving: 168 calories, 7g protein, 42g carbohydrate, 3g fat (0g sat, 0g mono), 2g fiber, 149mg sodium