Christmas. The word conjures many things - family, love, joy, Noel, Jesus, Santa, presents, pavlova, chocolate, turkey, ham, wine, gorging and... guilt.
My clients are a bit worried with the festive season looming. They're all doing really well with their nutrition and lifestyle changes and are concerned that it'll all go down the pan on Christmas day. I've told them to forget it all and enjoy their day. Go ahead and enjoy Boxing Day, too, if the festivities continue for two days, but get back into your routine straight after that. The longer you are out of your habits/routine, the harder it is to get back into them again. Take a break for one or two days but don't see those days as a free-for-all eatathon! Remember portion sizes and leave your Miss Piggy alter ego at home!
Here's some tips:
- Eat a breakfast with slow burning carbs and protein, eg. wholegrain oats (porridge or muesli) with protein powder or perhaps eggs on wholegrain toast. This will stabilise your blood sugar and keep you satiated for a longer period of time. This enables you to resist chowing down on choccies and sweet treats at 9am!
- Stay hydrated. More alcohol and late nights than usual can take its toll. Drink plenty of water during the day and have an iced mineral water with a slice of lime or lemon as a companion to your alcoholic drink. This will slow down your consumption of alcohol plus dilute it.
- Don't stand at the buffet/snack table. Browse the help-yourself goodies, pick wisely and not excessively. Put the items on a plate or a napkin and move to the other side of the room.
- Don't go to the party/family gathering starving hungry. You'll want to eat half a cow by the time you get there. Have a snack beforehand, eg. a banana and a few nuts or half a cup of Greek yoghurt.
- Reduce hangovers by sticking to one type of alcoholic beverage. "Never mix the grape and the grain!" was the saying I was brought up with and it really is true. Also try to alternate your alcoholic drink with a soft drink or a mineral water, too.
- Don't feel obliged to eat everything that's put in front of you. I've met many clients who are worried that their host will think them rude if they don't eat every piece of food offered to them - whether they want it or not. Unless you're taking your own meals to someone's house or dictating what you can and can't eat, most people aren't offended if you don't eat them out of house and home.
- Don't eat two large meals in one day. If you are to attend two functions eat lightly or skip a course.
- Get your sleep. Your body sees lack of sleep as a stress. When you are over-tired the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate your hunger and satiety, become imbalanced and food cravings kick in. Unfortunately, you don't crave kale; it's always sugar and carbohydrates.
- Keep moving and getting some fresh air. Take a walk with the dog, a cycle around the block or get outside to play with the kids - anything really that makes you feel less like a beached whale.
- HAVE FUN AND DON'T FEEL GUILTY! It's one or two days out of the year and moderation is the key. Eat and drink what you want but have restraint. Then you won't feel guilty and be signing your life away on a gym membership come early January.
I wish you all a very happy and stress-free Christmas. See you in 2016! :)