Healthy Happy Santas?
Is Santa a Health Promoting Professional? Forget the Sugar-Coated Santa. Sustainable Santa© is coming to town, and he is leading the charge for an army of Healthy, Happy Santas! Good old Saint Nick is getting with the program – eating healthier, slimming down and opting for surfing over sleigh rides—and he and the missus are eager to share their energized lifestyle with children and their parents. Richard Eckfield’s Sustainable Santa© is a “real bearded Santa” who lost more than 80 pounds through exercise and diet. Now his ambition is to “refocus America’s kids from wolfing down fast foods and treats to the joy of eating whole foods”—and he wants to switch the place for taking your picture with Santa “from the mall to the farmers’ market.”
Eckfield travels around the state to community gatherings such as farmers’ markets, seed shows and concerts, where, in a Santa suit often worn with red tennis shoes, he presents to children a fit, contemporary contrast to the image of the blithe fat man wreathed in smoke conjured by the poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” “The traditional Santa is 194 years out of date,” says Sustainable Santa©. “We’re anxious to have Santa be the counselor who urges kids to eat healthy and live a sustainable lifestyle.”
Eckfield and wife, Helen Nielsen, have developed a three-step plan to encourage fellow “real bearded Santas” to introduce healthy living concepts to kids.
Step one encourages Santas to share three “Food Rules,” inspired by food journalist Michael Pollan. Eckfield says it takes just seconds for a Santa to teach a child these simple rules, such as “If you are hungry, eat an apple. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re probably not hungry.” Collectively, the 3 Food Rules helps children break the habit and pattern of eating fast, snack, and processed foods.
Step two is to encourage kids to “Eat Real Food” by placing “Healthy, Happy Santas” into farmers’ markets where it’s easy to embolden kids to try new fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow!) and even fermented foods. The farmers and Santas team to present what they call “Garden Bites” tastes of real food for the kids to sample at the markets.
Step three is to recognize that if America’s goal is to “be Great again,” then first we must become healthy again. The Santas believe they can play a productive role in reversing the past three decades long trend of consuming unhealthy food-like substances in favor of consuming nutritious fresh, whole, real foods which will make kids “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life” – the goal of the Santas.
The passion Sustainable Santa© feels for his mission is apparent in his voice when he talks about the positive effect a few words from Santa can have on a child. “The bottom line is Santa is still Santa, and Santa clearly cares. If Santa says ‘try this,’ kids are likely to try it with an open mind.” He says the aha moment he sees most frequently is when a child bites into a raw vegetable, often to the astonishment of mom and dad. “I see the child eating it, turning around and saying ‘Wow, this tastes good!'”
Santa is not a marketing tool.
The Hypoglycemia Support Foundation and other groups concerned with children’s health support this important movement to take back Santa from ambitious marketers who want you to believe Santa is a jolly purveyor of sugary beverages and processed foods. The current image of Santa was shaped by soda pop marketing.
Articles about Sustainable Santa© and the Healthy Real Santa’s United to End Childhood Obesity and Promote Children’s Health – Healthy, Happy Santa Movement:
- Forget Sugar-Coated Santa, Meet Sustainable Santa©, Huffington Post
- Eclectic Encinitas
- Seaside Courier
- Coast News
- Christmas 2015 Issue of Nordstjernan: Feature story: “Sweden inspires Santa’s lessons” is found on pages 1, 4-5
- Paso Robles Magazine 2015 Christmas Issue
- Making Farmers’ Markets Sparkle at Holiday Time in Winter Issue of Heirloom Gardner Magazine
- 2016 Real Bearded Santas Newsletter
- International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas
- Santa & Mrs. Claus for Healthy Kids Facebook Page
- Farmers’ Market Santas Give the Gift of Health
- Reflections on the 10 most important things Sustainable Santa© learned at the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, CA September 6-8, 2016; and at the Real Food Fun event on diet and metabolic health sponsored by the Institute for Responsible Nutrition (IRN) in Palo Alto, September 8, 2016
- It’s a bountiful life: Ho-ho-ho to healthy eating, November/December 2017, California Bountiful magazine
- Coast News: North County Holiday Traditions Focus on Good Health
- Times Advocate: Effort to promote health eating for Halloween