Top Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

It’s the end of the year. We are all tired, if not exhausted.

My teachers are coming in pulling their hair out after being slammed with reports, candy cane and chocolate presents. Corporates are struggling to meet deadlines with a string of boozy client lunches and parties following. Parents have been up late for one too many school ballet or presentation night. And the university students are about ready to check in to detox programs after all their nights out!

To accompany all this it seems that EVERY person you have ever known in your whole life has decided to catch up… all at once, right now, before Christmas! Your Facebook inbox is flooded with group conversations and you feel like you need a PA to remind you what’s on which night.

DO NOT PANIC. I am here to give you some practical advice to keep you on the straight and narrow just when you thought everything was getting a little overwhelming and pear shaped.

If you are serious about your health, now is not the time to discredit all the hard work you have put in all year. A couple of weeks damage can take you back a couple of months. So not worth packing back on that 6kg!!

This is all is comes down to:

Organisation and Planning

Mindful Eating

Portion Distortion

Organisation

An army doesn’t go into battle without a plan, and neither should you. You need a plan and strategy to navigate your social calendar. Write a list of each social event, potential barriers to you eating well and some ways to attack these barriers. For example:

Event: Work Christmas Party

Barriers: At a Thai restaurant, portions hard as sharing, unlimited alcohol provided, range of desserts available

Strategies: Small snack before dinner so not ravenous when I arrive. Research menu before attending and choosing healthier dish. Get waiter to take plate away when I have finished meal so I can’t eat anymore. Drink vodka lime and soda (less calories) or offer to drive, have a sensible portion of my most favourite dessert and don’t feel guilty about it.

Will you be hosting a party? Why not make it easier and organise a healthy meal?

Smart swaps. Just as delicious!

Smart swaps. Just as delicious!

 Mindful Eating

 Mindfulness includes noticing the colours, smells, flavours, and textures of your food. Studies have shown that people overeat when they neglect to pay attention to what they are eating. Imagine what happens when you introduce a couple of glass of champagne or beer to the mix? Where did those mince pies go? How many did I even have? You should be able to recite exactly what you had for Christmas lunch, this means even if you are being a little more indulgent at least you ARE paying attention.

Some other mindful tips:

Always eat when you are sitting down with minimal distraction

Slow it down: Eat with your fork in your non dominant hand

Use smaller plates and bowls

Use taller glasses, people perceive they are drinking more

 Portion Distortion

Ever heard the expression “French women never get fat?” Don’t worry I am impressed too. For a country that specialises in croissants, pastries, baguettes and cheese I think they are doing well! Want to know their secret? Portion control. They look for QUALITY and control their QUANTITY. This applies at Christmas time even more so when we are surrounded by temptation.

Remember when you have a greater amount of options available; more of those options are going to walk their way happily onto your plate. After they’ve had their own Christmas party in your mouth there is no escape and it’s straight down to the stomach.

With your portions I offer these tidbits of advice. Be reasonable about how much you should have on your plate. At least half should be salads. And if it’s too much don’t feel obligated to finish it! Remove your plate from your reach or clear it from the table. Studies have proven that leaving dishes on the table in group situations leads to men eating 29% more and women 10% more.

 With your desserts. Choose the one you want MOST (your favourite), and have that only without guilt. Savour, savour, savour.

Reality is if you do eat a bit more over Christmas and Boxing Day it won’t have a huge influence on your weight. It’s when you continue to eat huge portions of leftover food and alcohol consistently for the whole month surround Christmas that this becomes a problem. Offload leftovers to guests and try and get back to your usual healthy routine as quickly as you can.

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Enjoy your Christmas everyone!