Is Santa a good example of a Healthy Lifestyle?

Carla Hay-Perdue, DNP, APRN, FNP, ANP-BC, NC-BC

Community Education Coordinator/ Family Nurse Practitioner at Palo Pinto General Hospital

December 22, 2021


On the Night before Christmas, Children everywhere are looking forward to Santa arrival.  It is a tradition to provide cookies and milk and other treats for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve because all his traveling will make him hungry.   Santa Clause was a bishop in Myra Turkey in the late 200 early 300s AD.  That makes him very old.  How does he maintain his vigor throughout the ages? He includes some of the habits common to centenarians everywhere. 

 He has been described as chubby and plump, but He hasn’t changed his shape in 198 years.    

How does he do it with his yearly binge?  I am sure that Mrs. Claus fixes healthy meals during the year.  Meat is the easiest food to grow at the North Pole.  Fish, bears, whales, seals, and Caribou (Run, Run Rudolph) are available.  Few vegetables can grow but greens are best adapted for such harsh climates.  Bark, Beets, turnips, kale, mustard, and collards are all raised in artic regions.  Looks like Santa probably follows a paleo diet during the year.  Then the Christmas Binge of Confection To prevent a feeling of deprivation.  Oh how Santa must look forward to the goodies that are left to show appreciation for his appearing. 

 How many calories will Santa consume on Christmas Eve? (There are studies on anything you want to know).  The Central European Journal of Medicine, (Wormser, P., Ladenheim, A. 2018) published the data!  The methods used to determine the households visited and calories consumed varied widely.  The data found is restricted to the United States.  The Pew Survey showed that in the United States, 49% of adults with children and 22% of adults who were not parents or guardians made preparations for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.    There are 118,860,065 households in the US with an average size of 2.65 persons.  Of these, 36,856,620 have children under 18 years old. Take 49% of the families with children under 18, and add the 22% of the adults without kids who make cookies for Santa and that totals 36.1 million families that will leave cookies and milk or other treats.   If each home leaves out three cookies at 100 calories per cookie plus an 8-ounce glass of milk (135 calories), Santa can consume 9.9 billion calories just from the United States Alone.  The snack consists mainly of carbohydrates and fat.  Now Santa is depicted as a 60-year-old 250-pound male his energy expenditure would be 3301 calories per day.  Santa doesn’t seem to gain weight.  He returns every year in the same suit looking about the same.  Lifting the heavy sack of presents at each house would burn quite a few, and he may take the cookies with him and share with the elves and reindeer.

Compared to Santa we do so much better over Christmas.  According to the Huffington Post, the average person puts on four pounds between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.  They consume twice their recommended calorie intake.  Christmas Day was by far the most fattening day.  One third of those polled consumed 8,530 calories.  Boxing Day was the second most fattening day, and New Year’s Eve was the third.

 Make exercise natural.  Santa’s lifestyle would be an active one.  Gardening, Raising Reindeer and making toys would give the Jolly Old Elf plenty of exercise each day.

 The rest of the factors are spiritual and psychological Santa Nails them.  He has a purpose. He is community and family oriented and maintains a spiritual connection.   His legend reaches back to 280 AD.  His parents died when he was young and he took his inheritance and used it to do good for those in need.  One of the best stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them a dowry so that they could be married.  Santa’s purpose is to help others and give what others need.  He and Mrs. Claus are active in the community of elves during the year and in the community of the world during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He destresses by keeping a positive attitude.  He is a jolly old elf.   He is spiritually connected to God by serving as The Bishop of Myra.  All of these contribute to longevity and a healthy lifestyle.  

 Nicholas’s popularity is known all over the world.  He became known as the protector of children and sailors, unmarried girls, pawnbrokers, and merchants.      

What can we learn about health from Santa? 

  1. Follow a healthy diet that has a rich source of vegetables most of the time. 
  2. It is ok to celebrate and occasionally eat good rich food as long as you are enjoying it with friends and family. 
  3. Can include spirits with friends and family. Limit to 1-2 glasses
  4. Move naturally
  5. Have a purpose. A reason for getting out of bed every day. 
  6. Put family first.
  7. Be involved in your community.
  8. Destress with what you enjoy.
  9. Stay connected spiritually to your higher power.