It’s that time of year again where we eat, drink, and be merry!
And rightly so.
No doubt you have had a long hard relentless year of work, play (training and exercise) and minimal rest.
We all deserve to let the hair down and indulge in a few (tins) of Roses this Christmas. But to what extent? And what price do we have to pay for it in January?
Why do we insist on taking this indulgence to the extreme as if the world will be drained of alcohol and ridden of Ferrero Rochers in the New Year?
Come the 1st of January, in the depths of dieting despair, the masses will flock to the gym and the dieting section of Eason’s.
How we can we relax and enjoy a few indulgences this Christmas knowing the suffering that is looming upon us in a few weeks’ time?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t indulge this Christmas. We absolutely should. I’m not entirely in agreement with all the “Christmas Damage Limitation Plans” that are awash on the web either.
Christmas is not a time for calorie counting or restriction and deprivation or calculating how many miles you have to run to burn off that third bowl of trifle.
There exists a middle ground somewhere between moderation and excessive indulgence, minus the guilt and definitely without the dreaded detox diet in January.
With that said, may I present you with Part I: EAT of "How to Keep Your Sanity & Waistline Intact This Christmas".
PART 1 - EAT
If you plan on continuing with your fat loss journey over the holidays then fair fecks to ya!
Just don’t be a pleb about it, by rubbing it in other people’s faces and by judging others for their indulgences.
I highly recommend wiping the smug look off your face and joining in on the party instead.
But that’s your choice of course. In my opinion, Christmas is a time to relax, reset, revive, rejoice, and renew.
This can’t be fully achieved if in a calorie deficit, or indeed worrying about excess calories.
A very legitimate choice is to decide that you are going to maintain your weight for the next few weeks or so. Allow yourself some indulgence. And accept that your progress will stall, but not regress.
Let’s start off with a few DON'Ts.
DON’T become a social recluse to avoid excess drinking and skip parties altogether to avoid food. It won’t take long before your friends start to think you’re an anti-social bore, or worse yet that you don’t want to spend time with them.
DON’T deprive yourself of some Christmas pudding. If you do, it will only be a matter of time before FOMO (fear of missing out for the non-kool kids) kicks in and the vicious cycle of binging, guilt, and restriction and deprivation ensues.
DON’T bring your own prepared rationed food to parties. While your new mantra recently has been “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and you have more missing Tupperware lids than you have containers, now is not the time of year for 100% compliance to your diet. Instead, it’s a time of year to loosen the reigns and let go of your calorie counted meals.
It’s possible to enjoy the holidays while also maintaining your sanity running into the New Year and keeping your waistlines intact, without completing compromising your social status.
While you shouldn’t bring broccoli in Tupperware to a party, don’t fall into a trap of binging on ALL the junk food either. The general thought process that dieters have goes something like this – “I’ve eaten 3 Roses, I’ve blown my diet, so now I may as well eat the whole tin, even the sickly strawberry ones that I don’t even like, to punish myself even further”.
This sort of behaviour is common, but it’s also quite destructive. Not to mention silly.
It’s a typical dieter’s trap that people fall into because of their own negative thoughts. Instead, change your mind, think more positively, and find a manageable balance. To help do just that, here’s the more important list of DOs.
DO set yourself up for a good day with a decent breakfast. Loading up on convenience foods, or not having any breakfast at all, can set you for a bad day. Eating a healthy balanced breakfast is a daily habit that everyone should adopt, as it sets you up for a good day in more ways than one.
It increases your cognition, controls mood swings, improves body composition over time, leads to better food choices over the day, improves bowel movements, improves energy levels, and balances blood sugar.
The problem with high carbohydrate and sugary breakfasts is the blood sugar crash that follows. Unbalanced spikes and dips in blood sugars can lead to insatiable hunger later on, resulting in extreme bad moods and poor food choices. The vicious cycle thus ensues.
When choosing breakfast, consider including protein dense food, unprocessed food, non-traditional breakfast foods such as vegetables, a healthy fat source, and whole grains such as oats and sprouted grains.
DO play an active role in deciding what goes into your mouth. You are the only one who can control your actions. Take responsibility for them and decide when enough is enough. Instead of eating ALL the Roses, decide to eat SOME of the Roses instead.
DO make better food choices. They don’t have to be the best choice of all of the time, just a better choice than the worst choice most of the time.
DO your best with food choices that are conducive towards your goals. Eat as much veggies as you can, stock up on protein, lower fats, and enjoy some carbs. Allow yourself some dessert. Have a few bites of the cake, but then you can feel free to decide that a few bites is enough.
DO keep an eye on portions. It’s perfectly OK to indulge in fun food over the Christmas but the quantity of it is going to be the determining factor for weight gain.
DO keep to a regular meal schedule. Ever sit down for Xmas dinner and realise that you’re already full from snacking and grazing? Listen to your hunger cues and eat at regular intervals, instead of continuously grazing throughout the day just because the food is there.
DO keep your meals to one plate. If you’re satisfied after your meal then refrain from going for seconds. Instead of gobbling your meal down and reaching for seconds before you have even given yourself a chance to feel satisfied, take your time eating it. Slow down and savour the flavours, give your brain time to realise that you’re full.
DO practice mindful eating. Make yourself aware of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and how it is making you feel. Tune into your body and listen to your hunger cues and satiety levels. It takes approximately twenty minutes for your brain to receive signals that you’re satisfied from food. So eat slowly, make each meal last 15-20 minutes, and give your body enough time to let it know you’re full. If you’re feeling satisfied but there’s still some food left on the plate, it’s perfectly OK to put down the fork and stop eating. Don’t feel obliged to clean the plate just ‘because’.
DO enjoy special occasions as they arise over the holidays. Plan to go "off plan" and accept that it will likely stall your progress. It won’t undo your progress so far and you won’t get fat overnight, but it will slow it down. However, accept that fact, and know that it is perfectly OK to do this. Enjoy your off plan meals, accept the stalled progress, and get right back to normal the day after.
DO accept your decision to go off plan. The most important thing is that you are aware of your decisions so that you don’t feel guilty or like a failure as a consequence.
DO enjoy your meals and Roses and don’t feel guilty after. Allow yourself treats and give yourself permission to enjoy them. You can also decide that you are full and that you have had enough. Give yourself the choice and watch the mental struggle disappear.
DO go for lots of winter walks with family or friends. Or if you have a current exercise or gym routine then stick with it. A good dose of activity does wonders for a healthy waistline. However, don’t obsess over how many calories you are burning or how many mince pies you are running off. Just get out and move your body in a way that you enjoy.
At the end of the day, you do have the choice to eat as much or as little as you want to over the Christmas. Just as long as you are aware of the consequences of your choices.
ALL consequences are perfectly OK by the way, as long as you are prepared to live with them, without berating yourself, shaming yourself, or punishing yourself for them.
Accept those consequences and simply move on.
Part II: DRINK of "How to Keep Your Sanity & Waistline Intact This Christmas" coming up tomorrow!
PS Why not approach Christmas and the New Year differently this year and avoid the dreaded (and not to mention dangerous) January detox and give Ignition Nutrition a go? Instead of being filled with dread, anxiety, and stress over any holiday weight gain, learn how to simply getting back to normal and feeling fabulous again. Click HERE for information and to secure your place in the January group!