7 Healthy tips For The Holidays

X’s and O’s during the Ho Ho Ho’s!

It’s that time of year when you have every intention of ending the year strong with your diet, but then you realize it’s almost an impossible task. Everywhere you turn there are festive holiday foods that you “have to” eat because ‘tis the season.

Luckily, we’ve brought in an expert to provide some tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays.

Leah Roberts is a Wellness Navigator Nurse for Capital Region Medical Center and a Whole30 certified coach who loves helping others connect the dots for better health. She knows the pitfalls of holiday eating –especially with foods like her MeMaw’s sweet potatoes. She has two grown boys and lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Paul, two cats and her beloved camper, Lil Red. And away we go!


In our culture, nothing brings out all the good feels like gathering around a holiday dinner table. The sights and smells are plentiful and oh so tempting. Many of us will celebrate multiple meals with our many clans as we make the rounds from Mom’s house, to Auntie’s house, over to the In-laws, next the Grandparents and on and on we go. Add in office parties, neighborhood festivities and business treats and we have endless opportunities to celebrate and indulge. Before we know it, January 1 rolls around and so does our muffin top and elastic waistband pants.

How do we successfully negotiate the multitude of events, people, appetizers, cakes, cookies and cocktails and keep our eyes focused on the end zone of our health and fitness goals? Is it even possible?

Fear not my fellow elves. We got this. Start with the basics and be realistic. November and December may not be the best time to commit to a Whole30 or 100% Keto or Paleo or the Office Biggest Loser. Instead, commit to a workable plan. I grew up in a football family and I love football analogies. So, in football language:  Commit to enjoying your favorite parts of game day: hold your ground, don’t give up the ball, and don’t lose your forward progress. 


1, Develop your game day strategy. Good teams scout their opponents in advance. Think through your upcoming events and what types of food and drink will most likely be served at each event. In the “film room” determine which delectables are Touchdown “worth it” and which buffet items can be punted. If it isn’t Touchdown “worth it,” then let it pass and fill up with the veggie and fruit tray.


2. Opt for highlight reel indulgences. As you sit at the Thanksgiving table sniffing Memaw’s sweet potato casserole, you are filled with happy, wonderful memories of Memaw. You remember the first time she convinced you to try sweet potato casserole. It’s good to remember Memaw, remember her laugh, her love, and savor each fork full. That memory and that dish is a highlight worthy indulgence.  No guilt, no shame. Conversely, at the office party when someone passes around pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate, call time out. Huddle up and consider the emotional significance of a chocolate covered pretzel.  Drop the pretzels like a fumble while you put the brakes on mindless eating. Keep your head in the game and don’t fall for fakes. 


3. Use your coaches and trainers. A successful football team is a well drilled team that follows good leadership. Be ready for action. December in the workplace is always busy.  It’s never a “coast”; it’s always a “push.” In the rush of caring for others, shopping, attending special events and being slammed with year-end items at work, consider turning to a proven leader. Why not use a meal planning or meal prep service to keep you on track with healthy meals? Locally, Love2Nourish, 700 Jefferson Street has wonderful, delicious, healthy premade meals to order or available for carryout from the cooler.  Love2nourish.com posts their meal menu a week ahead, making it easy to select as many meals as you need and pick them up on Sunday (? –only on Sunday?). Stash the premade meals at work and at home and when your day is too busy, don’t worry or place last second pizza orders, instead eat the healthy food waiting to be heated with no prep involved. 

As an audible to premade meals, you can make a play call for online meal delivery services: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Green Chef or Sunbasket will deliver ingredients to your door with simple instructions for meal prep. They have a wide variety of offerings to fit your budget. And lastly, don’t forget your consider hometown team. Consider using Jefferson City’s grocers’ online ordering services. Make your grocery list in your jammies, go online in the comfort of your living room, choose your items and choose your preferred pick up time. Then drive up to the store (still in your jammies if necessary) and have your groceries brought to your car. Like a good postgame rub down, this method keeps you away from the stress, the crowds and the urge to impulse buy at the grocery store. 


4. Don’t skip the weight room. Winning football players have to maintain their physical edge. Likewise, you need to stay active to keep your edge. Not the kind of active where you stay awake until 12:30 am scrolling through Amazon, desperate to find a present. Stay active in the gym or on Edgewood’s walking path. Capital Region’s Sam B Cook Healthplex offers a Happy, Healthy Holiday Contest beginning Nov 17 and ending January 6. The goal: Be active and maintain your weight (not lose) through the competition days. The contest includes awards for bringing a friend to workout with you, and points for working out at least 15 times over the contest span. Be accountable and enjoy the freedom to burn rather than consume calories.


5. More Water, Less Spirits. We’ve all sat next to the obnoxious, loud, rude drunk at the game and we have zero desire to be that person. In the holiday party setting, think before you drink. Which events are worth including alcohol in the plan? Ask yourself why are you drinking? Does this party stink? Are you bored beyond belief? Does this family gathering with Uncle “Know It All” dance on your last good nerve? You don’t have to look far to find a reason, but think through all of the scenarios and decide which events can be best enjoyed with a glass of wine and which events are just as fine with iced LaCroix and sliced fruit. Instead of using alcohol to numb the pain and the irritants, be present and enjoy the beautiful, meaningful and often hilarious moments. Drinking for fun? How many times does that turn out to be fun? Talk about costly penalties! Instead, when offered a glass of Cranberry vodka say with a big smile on your face “I’m not drinking tonight.” You really don’t owe anyone an explanation. If your event is in a bar setting, when you arrive, go the bartender and ask for seltzer water on ice with every single variety of sliced fruit they have hiding behind the bar in those special little boxes. Then, stroll into the arena, drink in hand, working your social magic. 


6. Play the game to win. Football teams don’t work hard without a goal to win. Use the same focus to live your holiday schedule with intention. Choose when and where you will mindfully, willfully, and intentionally enjoy the holiday treats and meals that are meaningful and significant. Choose what you will eat and drink that will help keep you in the game of holiday health. Offer to bring the healthy side dish or alcohol free beverage alternative to the event. When something special, planned for, and touchdown worthy is in front of you, then willfully choose to enjoy it without guilt or shame. 


7. Back to Training Camp. Athletes know that the off season will end and then it’s back to training camp. So, begin planning now for your post-holiday “reset.” Circle it on your calendar, schedule several January appointments with a personal trainer, enroll in a Whole30 group, or commit to 21 added-sugar-free days. This planned reset is not an excuse or a coverall to make up for holiday eating. Instead, it is a pre-committed plan to regroup after the holidays, refocus your intentions, and continue with your forward progress of good health. Here’s to holiday success and first downs!

If you are interested in learning more from Leah, there is a Whole30 class starting in January on the CRMC Southwest campus, or you can email her at lroberts@crmc.org.

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