Imagine the pre-Christmas parties and family gatherings are only around the corner and perhaps with it comes the usual anxiety over packing on the pounds, over indulging and paying the price later on. Perhaps you have already resigned yourself to the fact that you will gain weight this Christmas and reverse any of your hard-earned work up to now. That was me. In October and November I would try to be ‘good’ with an on/off diet and might manage to lose half a stone to fit into whatever I bought for Christmas. However, once the festive season got under way, I started into the tins of roses and the kid’s selection boxes and there was no stopping me. If it was in front of me I ate it. I adored sugar. I told myself it was OK, wasn’t it Christmas and everyone else was doing the same. Invariably the weight went back on and more in a matter of days. I kept saying once the rubbish is out of the house I would start eating proper again. I totally underestimated the power sugar had over me and I was not equipped with the skills to overcome it. The drip feed of refined sugar affected my moods, my sleep, my cognitive function, my energy levels, my skin and my hair. I would be back to square one in January disgusted at myself with the New Year resolutions to ‘start eating healthy’ and the whole cycle would begin again.
Does this describe you? But what if I told you this year can be different, that you can keep those extra pounds at bay and have the willpower to eat healthy and not feel you are missing out? The holidays won’t bring diet-disaster if you are equipped with the right tools and have a plan in place. The power is in your hands. I can put a customised plan in place just for you to avoid the festive pitfalls and keep you in control of your eating over Christmas and right into the New Year.
I firmly believe planning is the key to success, so over the next few weeks I will post healthy eating and drinking tips and recipes to get you over Christmas and into the New Year and beyond. So my first guide is……………
Handy tips for eating out over the festive period……
- If you are heading to a party later in the evening begin your day as any other day; do not skip meals earlier in the day to save on calories later on. You plan will back fire on you. Why? Because you’re hungry and possibly experiencing low blood sugar (which intensifies feelings of hunger), you’re more likely to make poor choices and also overeat.
- Eat a protein–packed snack before you leave or about an hour before your meal. A protein snack will help curb your appetite, so by the time you read the menu you are not ravenous and likely to make unhealthy choices.
- Don’t think of the Christmas Season as an excuse to gorge on unhealthy food. If you know the menu plan in advance plan what dishes you will eat. Start the meal with a soup, vegetables, or salad options
- Drink a big glass of water as soon as you get to the restaurant, or better yet, before you even step foot inside the establishment. This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room for food. Additionally, we often mistake thirst for hunger, making us think we’re hungrier than we truly are.
- If it is a buffet choose wisely. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits first, leaving little room for the higher-calorie fare. There is only so much room on a plate, and if you already have it half-covered with low-calorie, fibre-rich, filling produce, you’ll have less room on your plate (and in your stomach) for those fattier foods.
- Offer to clean up and help your host afterwards so you are not tempted to eat seconds!
- Eat Mindfully:
Take five deep breaths before your meal.
• Sit next to someone you genuinely find interesting and engage in pleasant conversation.
• Appreciate the colours and smells of your food.
• Chew thoroughly and slowly.
• Put your fork down between bites.
• Breathe in through your nose while you eat.
• Halfway through the meal, put fork down and pause. Take three deep breaths and assess your hunger on a scale of 1-10. Ask yourself how much more you need to eat in order to walk away feeling energized and comfortable. Hint: Usually, this is around “6” or “7.”.
- Most importantly, take time to enjoy healthy, wholesome meals with your friends and family and remember that you can heal your body and mind with each forkful of delicious food you enjoy.
Go ahead and set yourself some health goals for the Christmas period.
Remember to look after YOURSELF because you are worth it.