How to Enjoy Christmas Without Growing a Santa Belly
Staying on track over the holidays is hard. Most of us throw caution to the wind and forget/rebel against all the hard work we put in all year.
While it's very important we enjoy our time socialising and bonding with our friends and family for our emotional health, it's also important to recognise that this can de-rail from our health goals.
For some, the new year starts with what feels like a point of no return, often having undone all of our hard work. The new year starts with a bigger hill to climb, with a backpack full of remorse.
So how do we enjoy our holiday period, without losing sight of our goals? It's actually easier than you may think. Today I hope to give you a few simple pointers that can have a substantial impact.
Eat your veggies:
For some of us, the thought of veggies at a time of indulgence makes our toes curl. However, it's important to keep up our healthy habit of regular veggie intake. Vegetables are the one food group we cannot ignore when it comes to maintaining good health and having the capacity to rebound from days when we've been more naughty than nice.
This doesn't mean we have to eat a daily dose of steamed, plain broccoli - there's always ways to make our veggies taste delicious. Think of honey glazed carrots, roasted chili pumpkin and baked sweet potato dishes serve with a lean cut of Xmas turkey or ham.
Protein is your friend which helps build and repair muscle and tissues. Protein also keeps you full, keeps your blood sugar steady and helps give you bucket-loads of energy - which you'll definitely need when playing with all those nieces, nephews, cousins and grandkids.
Maintain your foundations:
If we keep our foundations steady (i.e. vegetable and protein intake - deli-meats NOT included here), it increases our body's satiety. Put simply, this means to signal that we are full and satisfied for longer periods of time.
Avoiding the FOMO: It's also understood that the psychology behind binge eating is due to fear of missing out. It's the gap between our expectations vs our reality is where the feeling of deprivation is created, and the bigger the gap, the worse the FOMO. By keeping up your healthy veggies and protein, you'll find that you will naturally crave less of the sugary stuff in the following days and therefore can get back on track a lot quicker. Feeling satisfied and full results in a lot less FOMO (fear of missing out) on the sweets and treats like Nana's trifle.
Why is this so important? Far more than the calories and sugar they contain, hyperprocessed or hypersweet foods can stimulate cravings and overeating as they override our body's ability to recognise when we are truly hungry (or full). Ultimately this makes it much harder to stay on track as the sugar has now hijacked your resolve.
Set your goals:
Promise yourself that your daily protein and vegetable intake will not waver and set daily simple goals like making sure you have a healthy breakfast, that the veggies and protein are the super-stars in each meal, then once you've achieved this, allow yourself extras and treats. Expect to indulge, yet keep the baseline/fundamentals there to naturally reduce excess or bingeing. This way, you stay on track and can indulge and enjoy without either deprivation or excessive weight gain. You'll also bounce back into your healthier diet and lifestyle quicker than years prior and will maintain control of your "hunger and fullness" hormones throughout the holiday period.
Treat yourself, but only with your favourites:
Christmas is a time to indulge in more fun, laughter and conversation, however it does not mean you need to throw it all out the window and binge on junk food. Often over Christmas we end up binging on non-stop treats just because they are there. We derail from our healthy diet and lifestyle plan by eating unhealthy foods that we're not even all that keen on - just because it's there!
Break the mold this Christmas - allow yourself treats but prioritise your favourites. Enjoy your treats whenever everyone else is enjoying theirs too. Social bonds are strengthened when we partake in activities simultaneously - particularly food sharing. So, pick your favourite, and enjoy it wholeheartedly. Enjoy every moment - taking in the smiles of your family's faces, the sounds of Xmas carols playing in the background or whatever it might be for you and your family because it's the experience we humans are really after.
Don't forget to move:
Of course, burning those calories is going to be the best way to stay on track and can actually result in reduced snacking too. Get your endorphins (happy hormones) through fun movement and you'll find you chase the food-based endorphins less. A bit of outdoor cricket or chasing after little ones is a good way to go.
If you're still sticking to your gym routine, or trying to make your gym time more time-efficient to allow more social-time, choose heavy weight sessions or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
Don't skip leg day!
If you only had 2 days in the gym per week, choose the biggest 2 muscle groups - back and legs. It will have the biggest impact on your metabolism and ability to burn calories up to 48 hours after as well as providing you the best opportunity to build as much muscle in one session a possible.
And then, when you have the time and/or motivation again, hit the upper body, core and glutes.
Know your goals
If you are super-motivated and would like expert advice, we offer structured, personalised diet plans that can incorporate your favourite Christmas treats. Click the link below to purchase a personalised diet plan today.
We offer simple plans which incorporate very easy recipes and leftovers or more comprehensive plans that also incorporate therapeutic foods and tailored recipes. You'll even get recipes for healthy indulgent treats that help to keep you on track.