The 12 days of Christmas are almost here and I’m sure many of you have already been tempted by the endless festive goodies being thrown in front of you.
They’re everywhere - in the workplace, at the supermarket, heading out to eat, around the family home...
Now maybe you don’t care one bit and want to eat whatever you want. In that case good for you, have an extra mince pie for me!
But if you are one of the many people trying to work on themselves, not wanting to give in to all the temptation and over-indulge, then how do we best control ourselves, especially at this time of year?
For some of us its not as easy as just saying 'Oh it's christmas time, indulge, enjoy yourself'.
I know, because I speak from experience.
This can be a slippery slope back to old habits, and the undoing of months of hard work.
Being able to just have ‘one or two’ mince pies or chocolates may not be realistic for some of us. In fact, I used to have the entire packet (and probably open a second too...)
It was a slippery slope because once I had the taste for sugar and fats I would do the same thing each and every single day - having packets of biscuits, candy canes, Christmas cakes, hot chocolates…
The list went on for every day throughout December, as if it was ok to eat like that for an entire month, 'because hey it’s Christmas right!'
Sometimes it wasn't even like I needed it or wanted it. It was just because it was there and sucking me in to eat, eat, eat until I was rounder than Father Christmas himself.
So here are my top tips for the silly season, for those of us who want to treat ourselves AND stay on track.
Basically how to have your cake and eat it too...
Treat yourself, don't stuff yourself! There is a difference and it will show on your waistline.
Always know there are healthier options of the treats you desire - shop around to find what’s best for you.
Really practice portion control and be selective! Only take what you actually need to eat or have allowed for yourself that day. Free food doesn't mean you have to eat it all!
Remember your main goals, what is more important and how hard you have worked.
Know yourself and how your body reacts to food, temptations and sugars.
It's worth keeping in mind how you want to feel come January, be ahead of the game not 10 steps behind all the work you've already done in 2017.
Plan ahead and make yourself a fun workout schedule to stick to for December (include a new activity you've been wanting to try and some quick home workouts for those busy days where you may not have an hour to two for the gym.)
Incorporate those Christmas catch-ups with friends into something active too: Ice skating sessions, yoga class, cycle in the park, or walk before your main plans, meals or drinks (not everything has to be about food and alcohol.)
If you are attending lots of work dos and Christmas parties, and having more alcoholic beverages than you are used to, go for lighter options and have water in-between. This will hopefully make your hangover more bearable and not spend the whole next day wasted in bed.
And once you learn how to say no, say to yourself 'I don't want that' instead of 'I can't have that'. It’s word play with the mind, that your are not depriving yourself - you actually don't need it today!
Ask yourself are you eating this because you want and need it, or are you just having it for the sake of a work colleague or friend offering you another slice?
Be conscious of hot Christmas beverages especially in the big coffee chains - their drinks can have in excess of 600 calories and contain more than your daily intake of sugar in one go! So maybe opt for a small if you are going to have one.
Try making treats at home, opting for healthier ingredients, natural sugars and raw ingredients, this way you know what’s in them, they don't contain as many preservatives or processed sugars and still taste great.
Indulging doesn't have to just mean food! Take time to indulge on the inside; relax and have a pamper day, get a massage, facial or your nails done!
Or even hit up the spa for a swim, sauna and steam! Make sure you are getting proper rest too.
Try and fill up on healthy foods first - don't forget your fruit, veg and nuts, then sometimes you may not crave all that chocolate or pudding!
Keep your water intake high and be well hydrated! Often nine times out of 10 we are thirsty not hungry, but our brains mistake that often for sugar cravings, when all we really needed was an extra large glass of water!
Be aware of your week and how many cheat days you may be having vs how many good on track healthy days.
But don't beat yourself up - it's ok to want to have a treat and enjoy a few days in the holiday not worrying about calories and macros and all that malarky, but you can have an indulgent meal and still feel good! Just keep up your normal routine in-between.
If you know you are particularly bad this time of year try bribing yourself. One thing I did one year was buy myself my NYE dress at the end of November, and it hung on my bedroom door for the entire of December, knowing I was going to look damn good in that come the 31st!
It was my little piece of motivation to stick to the body and healthy life I wanted, not ruining it for the sake of extra sugar and fat that I didn’t really need, but because society, food companies and supermarket marketing campaigns have got damn good at shoving every possible food in front of us to benefit from people not being able to say no!
Don't not eat all day so you can binge all night on desserts or alcoholic beverages. It won’t work.
Be a more mindful eater! Actually enjoy every bite, taste what you are eating, and enjoy it.
Don't just hoover it down with out touching sides - you won't even taste it and then just want more to satisfy the taste buds!
Remember you still have the big day to come, Christmas Day - and on this day you do want to be able to enjoy a great meal, all the trimmings and pudding! Don't spoil it by eating too much leading up to it, that you then feel guilty on the actual day!
And lastly make sure you are happy with the decisions you make and enjoy the whole holiday period, stress free!
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