While Christmas will be different for many of us this year, those festive treat foods are likely to remain unaffected. Being surrounded by mince pies and tubs of chocolates makes it easy to over-indulge. But, if you want to avoid Christmas weight gain and start the New Year feeling fresh, energised and ready to start a new and brighter chapter, read on to find out how to maintain a state of balance…
DON’T DO YOUR FESTIVE FOOD SHOP TOO EARLY
Supermarkets often have offers on Christmas foods weeks before the festive season. It can be tempting to take advantage of these offers but ask yourself – if you buy it now, will it last until Christmas? Or are you likely to get tempted and tuck in before?! If you know you might struggle to resist, order in advance and have your shopping delivered just a few days before Christmas. This way you’re still organised ahead of time but you won’t have temptations lying around for weeks.
SEE CHRISTMAS AS A SERIES OF EVENTS, NOT A MONTH OF GORGING
Admittedly there might be a few more celebrations than your average month (even this year given the “three-household rule”), but where many people run into trouble is through constant, daily gorging. Enjoy yourself when it’s time to celebrate and in between those times, aim to maintain your usual healthy lifestyle as much as possible. Fill your plate with lots of vegetables, protein-rich foods and healthy fats at each meal. Then when you head to your small get-together (Covid-permitting) you can enjoy a couple of drinks and a few nibbles. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy celebrating with those you love.
Eat mindfully keeping an eye on your portion sizes, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly. Savour each mouthful and recognise when you are starting to feel full. Food is much more enjoyable when you eat this way. Make mindful decisions about when to indulge and what you’re really going to enjoy rather than eating certain foods just it’s Christmas. Before eating a treat take a moment to ask yourself ‘is this worth it?’ If it is – go for it. But if you find yourself eating for the sake of it, walk away.
SCHEDULE RESTORATIVE TIME
Christmas may be positioned as fun family time, but it can also be overwhelming for many. It’s important to take restorative time out for yourself when you can. This might mean going for a walk in the countryside or a park, meditating, or simply sitting quietly with a book or magazine. When we don’t do this we can quickly become depleted and end up turning to food for comfort.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
A good tip year round, but especially at Christmas – keep the treats out of sight. If there are always treats in your eye line, it’s a whole lot easier to be tempted and end up mindlessly picking. Store treats away in a cupboard and only get them out when you make the conscious decision that you want to enjoy them. And when you’re finished, put them straight back in the cupboard.
MAKE SECRET HEALTHY SWAPS
When cooking, there are a few things you can do to make dishes healthier without compromising the flavour. Often, simple tweaks can be made to traditional recipes to make them healthier. It’s very easy to end up eating a lot of sugar at this time of year. Make healthier versions of classic Christmas favourites, such as mulled wine sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. It’s great to use xylitol as a substitute for sugar in recipes like cranberry sauce too – no one will notice the difference. There are lots of ways we can make traditional dishes healthier when we really think about it.
Christmas doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience. Maintaining your usual exercise regime can be a helpful reminder that balance is key. Exercising first thing in the morning can be a good idea, before you have the chance to talk yourself out of it. On the upside there’s a good chance the gym will be empty! Alternatively, if you aren’t comfortable attending the gym just yet, take some long walks in the countryside with friends or family. Keeping active can really help prevent that groggy, sluggish feeling from creeping in.
GET YOUR Z’S
When you haven’t slept enough, levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin are increased, and levels of satiety hormone leptin are decreased – not a helpful combination for keeping your appetite in check! Christmas can keep you up late but make time for a lie in, or take a nap, to help avoid overeating due to tiredness.
DON’T START A NEW DIET NOW
Unless you have a weight loss programme already firmly established, you might want to consider setting a maintenance goal instead. It can often be more realistic to focus on maintaining your weight at this time of year, rather than losing. This will give you some freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling overly restricted, or that you’ve failed, making you more likely to rebel (and head straight for that tub of Celebrations without a second glance). We’ve all been there! Focus on practicing the art of moderation and …
MAKE A PLAN FOR JAN
Set a date for when the celebrations end and life returns to normal. This helps prevent any Christmas habits creeping into daily life. If you’re looking to lose weight and / or optimise your health, there has never been a better time. Don’t be tempted by faddy detoxes or crash diets that provide no long-term benefit and could even have detrimental effects. If you feel as though you could benefit from a plan to get you back on track opt for a sensible, nutritionally sound approach. We offer a 25 minute complimentary call to understand your health challenges and goals help guide you in making a plan to achieve that. Click here to schedule your call today and take that first step towards a healthier, happier you.
2020 may have been a challenging year for many of us, but as it comes to a close we have the opportunity to reflect on the lessons it’s taught us and consider what we want for 2021.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas from all of us.