If you have worked hard all year to stay on track and achieve health and fitness goals, understandably the festive season can cause some stress and anxiety, in fear of going backwards, on your progress.
While the festive season does involve eating more food than usual, drinking more and less control over the food you eat, it is still possible to take part in all of the Christmas traditions and cheer around you and maintain your achievements.
While a little compromise is likely needed, there are plenty of practical and realistic ways to go about it. Here I share my tips on how to do exactly this:
Be mindful of consuming excess alcohol and carbs together
Alcohol is a nutritive and ‘toxin’ to the body and therefore our body will prioritise processing it and eliminating it from our system, prior to the food we consume around it.
This means, if you are drinking alcohol with a lot of carb rich foods such as sushi, pizza, pasta, chips, bread etc, you will be left with a lot of carbs to burn off, before this is stored as fat.
To help minimise the impacts of alcohol on weight, aim to consume lean protein and veggies when having alcohol.
Limiting carbs, is also a good way to cut back on calories, which are already being consumed in the form of alcohol.
Find 10 minutes to move daily
While 10min of exercise may not seem like much, especially if your usual workouts are anywhere from 30-60min, 10min can still result in the following benefits:
- keeps you in the habit of moving and staying active which makes it easier to get back into your usual workouts
- clears your mind and is a tool to de-stress
- exercise helps people make better food choices – this has been proven!
- burns calories and helps to fire the metabolism
The reason I say 10min is because everyone can find this – while waiting for a party, while roasting food in the oven or upon waking. Jump on Youtube and find a 10min video or make up your own routine.
If you can do more then 10min, then great, but at least 10min is still of benefit!
Take time out to unwind and relax
It’s been a crazy year for all of us and a year, which has caused much stress to many. Use this time to unwind and relax and recharge for what we all hope to be a more positive year ahead. Relaxing is different to everyone but some ideas include:
- sleeping in
- going for an outdoors walk
- spending a few hours daily reading
- allowing yourself the time to watch your favourite TV shows
- getting a massage
- having a siesta
- practicing yoga or meditation
Stress wreaks havoc on blood sugar and appetite and can lead to emotional eating and insulin resistance. Therefore, keeping calm and relaxed over Christmas can only do good things for your waistline!
Alcohol has a big impact on health from mood and energy to weight. Rather then viewing the festive season as a ‘free for all’ when it comes to alcohol, commit to some limits such as:
- every second day is an alcohol free day
- every second drink is sparkling water
- max 4 drinks per session
- drinking 1 x daily – not lunch and dinner, just one
These are simple deals you can make with yourself, which can take a lot of pressure off and avoid causing you to come up with excuses around why this one last drink is ok.
Offer to bring a dish
Bringing a dish is a great way to make sure there is something you will not only enjoy eating but is inline with your health and fitness goals. This can be as simple as a salad for lunch or some fruit for dessert, but will have a powerful impact for you. I am also sure the hosts will be much appreciative of your offer too!
Start the day right
If your events and parties don’t start until lunchtime, having a healthy breakfast or brunch is a good way to set the right foundation for the day. At this meal, I would be looking to get in a good source of veggies, lean protein and some healthy fats. This combo is not only nutrient dense but it is also satisfying and will help to stabilise blood sugar levels until your next meal. Some ideas include:
- veggie omelette with avocado
- smoothie using avocado, spinach, hemp seeds and fruit of choice
- smoked salmon / ham breakfast salad – avocado, tomato, leaves, sautéed mushrooms etc
- veggie ‘fry up’ – mushroom, spinach, tomato, goat/feta cheese and some sauerkraut/kimchi
Wishing you all a happy and healthy Christmas xo!