With Christmas just around the corner, we’re surrounded by an abundance of highly palatable, and highly calorific snacks and treats which have the potential to throw a spanner in the works of our weight loss goals. But is it possible to get through the festive period without re-gaining the weight that we’ve worked so hard to lose this year?
Yes, it absolutely is! Here are 8 tips you can use to land in January without guilt and still enjoying your holidays.
#1. Write Things Down
This time of year, we’re already making lists: food shopping, present buying, and all the festive preparation that needs to be done. But including your feelings in this with a daily journaling routine can be a game-changer when it comes to recognising emotional eating.
Writing it all down - the logistical, the practical and the emotional - can be an instant relief when you’re trying to minimise stress. Recording your food choices in advance of eating them can also make it far easier to stick with your daily calories.
#2. Portion Control
Calorie control is super useful, but it can feel like work. Switching to portion control can be faster and feel more natural. Start by splitting your plate into quarters and filling up two of those quarters with low calorie, high volume foods like vegetables or salad. One quarter with protein and the final quarter with carbs can make a massive difference to your enjoyment during Christmas. This portioning method can allow you to try most of the Christmas foods without feeling like you’re actively counting and weighing every gram of food and not being able to relax.
#3. Movement Over Exercise
Exercise during the holidays can feel like another ball to juggle, and with your routine likely being disrupted, you may struggle to find time for it during your day. Instead of an intentional exercise period during the day, making time to move more can help. This could mean pacing around while on the phone, getting up to stretch when the advert break comes on or leaving the car behind and walking to places where you’d otherwise drive.
#4. Mindful Eating
Asking yourself if you want to eat something can seem so simple, but it aims to remove the element of eating past the point of enjoyment. It’s about being intentional about what you eat, and thoroughly enjoying the food - rather than eating because it’s there. It can help to add a small time buffer between wanting the food and allowing yourself to eat. Sometimes, those 5 minutes of waiting can make you realise you didn’t want it at all!
#5. Food Environment
With so much additional food around at Christmas time, it can be everywhere you look! Stack the deck in your favour by making sure the nutritious snacks are in view while the other, less optimal choices are put away in a cupboard. It’s not to say that you can’t have treats, but putting some intentional decisions between you and the chocolates could be a great idea. High calorie treats in a box, in the cupboard, at the back means you can still have them, but you have to make a few intentional decisions to get to them first!
#6. Stay Hydrated
Some people find themselves muddling up being thirsty with hunger. By drinking enough water, you allow yourself time to have a “conscious pause” before making any decisions about food. Start your morning, afternoon and evening with a glass of water, as well as each meal you eat. This will give you a good start on staying hydrated.
Booze is full of calories, and because it lowers our inhibitions, we’re also prone to making low-quality food choices when drinking - think of that nasty kebab on the way home from a night out! Alternating alcohol with soft drinks, opting for lower-calorie drinks like spirits over lager or wine, and not chugging the booze too quickly can all help.
Prioritising your rest can help you to make clear-headed decisions around food the next day. Being sleep-deprived and low on energy is likely to mean you overeat and make poor quality choices. Following a set bedtime routine can improve the quality and quantity of sleep.
Recognising that Christmas is a stressful time - especially this year. That food is a comfortable, familiar and highly available distraction is the first step. There are a handful of strategies here which can mitigate some of that and remember that the goal at Christmas time can be to maintain your performance, rather than pushing on and trying to lose more weight actively.
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