We are all getting ready for the festive season and it can be a very challenging time for my nutrition clients. The festive period is associated with January weight gain, but the extra sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol etc. can also wreak havoc on my gut health and chronic illness clients. I thought I’d provide some tips to help everyone get through the festive period without achieving the dreaded January weight gain or reduced well being.
Tip no. 1 – don’t let the festive foods come into the diet too soon. If you start eating mince pies with brandy cream on 1 December then you have an entire month of junk food ahead of you. Of course you can have some treats, but start eating them on Christmas Eve and put them in the bin on Boxing day. This will prevent all of those extra calories and inflammatory foods causing too much trouble.
Tip no. 2 – if you know that there is going to be nothing but unhealthy food at the party you are attending, eat before you go. If you are full, you are much less likely to eat all of the pastries and sweet treats laid out in front of you. It will help to soak up the alcohol as well.
Tip no. 3 – if you are gluten/dairy/egg/Christmas cake/turkey intolerant it doesn’t dramatically disappear just because it is Christmas. If you eat these foods you are facing a world of bad skin, gut discomfort, joint pain, fatigue, wheezing etc. in January. You have to ask yourself – is it really worth it?? Preparation is the key – preparing non reactive foods for family dinners or taking your own kind of food with you to parties means that you can avoid foods that you know will cause a problem a couple of hours, days, weeks or even months later.
Tip no. 4 – if Aunt Mildred brings out her world famous sherry trifle and you can’t resist it, have a very small spoonful. Then you won’t feel deprived and no harm done. We all feel pretty terrible after a big plate of trifle anyway so you can gloat when you see everyone sitting with their pants undone after their massive platefuls and you’re still going well.
Tip no. 5 – watch those liquid calories. Again, don’t let the increase in booze start too soon. Have some alcohol free parties if you are a social butterfly and allow yourself some drinking parties if you need to, but limit it to 4 units per party with lots of water in between. Hangovers the next day are the worst for driving bad food choices so you’ll be helping your future self stick to the plan if you limit your intake at the time.
Tip no. 6 – tell everyone who you remotely suspect might give you a present to NOT give you lollies, cakes or booze. There are a few sabotagers out there who will deliberately try to set you off the rails, but most people are happy to help. Instead you could ask for sports socks, fitness trackers, exercise gear etc. Much healthier options.
Tip no. 7 – speaking of sabotagers – you are always going to get people at parties who tell you just to fill up on unhealthy food and drink more. Please realise, this is absolutely nothing to do with you and your health journey. It is about them and how you are making them feel bad about not having the strength to say no. Politely tell them that you are more than happy with your food and drink choices, and to go away and bother someone else!
Tip no. 8. Move! So many of my clients over the years sit on their butts for a month over the festive season. I love to run/bike/swim/hike/climb/dance all through my holidays. You don’t get holiday butt spread, you don’t become stiff as a board and you burn more calories. It’s a win, win, win situation. Enjoy your exercise over the holidays and try some new activities while you have some time off. I’m going to take up paddle boarding this year even though I normally land head first over the front of the board. It’s all holiday fun!
I hope these tips help you enjoy your holiday and stay fit and healthy throughout. The key is to have some of the naughties, but in moderation and as soon as the fun and games are over get straight back on the wagon.
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Have a great time everyone!