“Christmas time, mistletoe and wine…”
…and chocolate, and crisps and mince pies.
If you are like me then Christmas is a time of the year that I just tend to lose the run of myself when it comes to food… whether it be sweets, Christmas cake, crisps, fizzy drinks or ice cream I tend to throw any type of clean or healthy eating out the window and just eat it all! That then leads to me feeling heavy and bloated and the fun of eating just isn’t worth that feeling of over indulgence.
I want this year to be different! So with that in mind I contacted Carrie from the Carrie Small Plate blog to ask her advice. You may remember her from this post as she is also the talent behind the Mini Christmas Jumpers! Well she is an avid healthy eater and an awesome runner and she kindly said she would do a guest post to help both me and you Survive the Christmas Holidays!!
And now over to Carrie…
Christmas time has long been more associated with treats and over-indulgence than ever. And according to studies, the average weight gain over the Christmas period is thought to be between 5-10 lbs. Eeek!
Part of the reason for that is the extension of the Christmas spirit – it is no longer just a few days at the end of December – no sooner is Halloween over than the shops are pumped with eau de mulled wine scent and the special offers on chocolates, biscuits and savory snacks start.
So I’ve devised a few useful tips that should help you over the holidays to stay on track, and to help avoid “scales dread” come January;
- Buy what you need and when you need it.
As I mentioned above, there are special offers to beat the band in supermarkets since November. And they will still be there on December 24th, and 26th… If you are partial to picking, then just don’t have the extras in the house. If you are expecting visitors, you can get a small pack of biscuits (that you don’t like ;)) to have to offer. Or even better, make some of your own snacks like these guilt-free chocoloate-dipped fruit pieces, tasty CinnaMen, or parsnip crips for the savoury-lovers.
- The power of saying No.
We all have that Mrs Doyle friend in our lives, who “go-on, go-on, go-on’s” us until we cave and have 11 double-chocolate chip cookies. But remember, s/he can’t hurt you if you just say “No!”. Try it, just the once and see how you feel.
- A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips
This old-fashioned wife’s tale sounds dated now – but remember you should still be eating no more than 5-6 times per day. Grazing is one of the main culprits when it comes to gaining weight. And when you are indoors for 14-16 hours per day, surrounded by appealing bibbles, who wouldn’t be tempted to submit?! Which leads me to my next point…
- Stay active.
I know that based on the way the weather has been going, you’re probably reading this with the rattles of wind-blown windows and the clacking of hail on your roof in your ears. And that kind of weather isn’t conducive to getting out and about. But even 20 mins of a brisk walk will make a difference.
Try fit it into your day as something fun – bringing the kids out on their bikes, playing your new Wii, going for a romantic walk in a nearby woods or seafront. It doesn’t have to be a chore! And remember to be realistic. Don’t plan to get up half an hour early on Stephen’s day to go for a walk or workout if you know it won’t happen.
- Stay in control of your portions.
This is another culprit to an expanding midrift over the holidays. At what other time of the year would it be normal to start with main course-sized vol-au-vents, and then stack your plate high with meat, more meat, veg, 17 different types of potato and then go back for seconds before piling a septet of deserts onto another dinnerplate. And then a mere hour later, make moutains of sandwiches with whatever savoury slivers are left about the place. Try and eat until you are full, not until you are close to internally erupting.
Even if you feel that it will make up for a day/days of eating too much, not eating is not the option. Go back to a healthy, regular eating habit to keep your metabolism on track. If you want to give yourself a kick-start, you can try a carb-free day (just one day, not a number of days in succession). But definitely don’t try starvation – it won’t work.
This time of year is all about spending time with friends and family and enjoying good food and company. You don’t have to feel like you are denying yourself. One or two days of indulgence is not going to put your plans off the rails for good. So enjoy those days, be happy and not calorie-counting. And once those days are over, draw a line in the sand and get back to your good habits. They say that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit – so one or two days of splurging will not ruin your weightloss.
- Planning is key.
Whether it comes down to planning days or weeks ahead for group meals and nights out, or just planning each day so you are aware and mindful of what you are eating, I cannot emphasise enough the power of planning and writing things down. Even small changes, such as checking the menu of a resaturant you are visiting in advance (either online or by phone) can help you make the right decisions and be prepared.
- Treats don’t have to be food.
I think this is a key point. Even as kids, I remember being rewarded for good behaviour with a treat such as a biscuit or a chocolate bar. While on the surface this may not seem like a big deal, it does ingrain in you the notion that food is a reward.
So next time you think to yourself “I’ll give the house a good clean, and then I’ll sit down with a cuppa and a slice of cake” – replace cake with “favourite magazine”, or “buy myself new [nailvarnish, PJs, album…] – or even better “call my friend and arrange to meet him/her for a walk later”. Then you will start to break the cycle of action-> reward -> food. Your waistline will thank you for it.
Get more of Carrie’s healthy lifestyle tips over on her blog. She has also just joined Twitter – so please go follow 🙂