Stay on track & prioritise your health goals this Christmas
It’s Christmas and we want to have a lovely time, to eat, drink and be merry, to celebrate and enjoy nights out, parties and lazy dinners with friends and family. Of course we do.
How do we ensure that we have a great time without piling on weight or feeling sluggish, bloated or tired come New Year's Day?
According to research a third of women feel more stressed in December than any other month. And small wonder. Money worries, family tensions, pressure to socialise, and over-excited kids on a sugar high can push our stress levels up. And, if you struggle to stay at your happy weight or often turn to food as a way of coping or rewarding yourself, being surrounded by treats and snacks over the holidays rarely has a happy ending.
I’d like to offer you some advice on how to stay sane and energised and to start your 2023 feeling amazing.
How do you want to feel the first week of January? Write it down, be descriptive. My clients who work with me over the longer term will know that I am a huge proponent in writing things down and getting very clear on your health goals.
Doing this can help to rein in the old self-sabotage behaviour and helps you commit to your actions.
Planning & Prepping
Routine can go out the window in the lead up to Christmas and in that week between Christmas and New Year (you know the one where you forget what day it is). However a few minutes thought and preparation can go a long way.
For example, the day tends to go a lot better when you get your breakfast right. Starting the day with a breakfast that contains some protein and fibre will help to minimize cravings and energy dips in the day. What you eat for your first meal influences what you will want to eat later that day.
Forgo the bowl of breakfast cereal and the toast and marmalade and instead opt for eggs and avocado with wholewheat toast, natural/Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts or oats with some cinnamon, stewed apple or berries and topped with some nuts or seeds.
Stock up your fridge, freezer and cupboards with good food choices and jot down some ideas that you could have for your meals. If your house is full of rubbish food then of course you’re going to eat rubbish food.
Take pride in nourishing yourself properly, your body will thank you deeply.
Eating well does not have to be stressful, costly or difficult. Keep it simple.
Make good alcohol choices
So, ideally drinking very little is the best thing but to be realistic many of us will be drinking a bit more than normal over the holidays so it can be sensible to consider better choices.
If you want to avoid the dreaded hangover or if your alcohol tolerance isn’t what it once was opt for some lower alcohol wines and beers. The Santa Rita 120 range has some wines at 9% ABV and Perlissimo or Gallo Family range has a few 5.5% ABV bottles.
Limit the sweet cocktails and creamy drinks like Baileys. Did you know that 100ml of Bailey’s contains 315 calories and around 5 teaspoons of sugar? Compare this with say, a gin (standard pub measure of 35ml) and slimline tonic water which has about 86 calories.
Try to drink with foods as this will reduce the impact of the alcohol (and the sugar) on your bloodstream.
Drink plenty of water – simple I know, but it’s amazing how this can slip when our routine is out of normal. It will help with the after effects of having a few drinks as alcohol is very dehydrating. It’s this effect of dehydration which causes a lot of the symptoms of a hangover.
You could consider taking some milk thistle (silymarin) or artichoke leaf to help your liver deal with the effects of alcohol and overall to have a good few alcohol free nights in the lead up to and around the Christmas period.
It’s perfectly ok to say no thank-you
It can be difficult to not be tempted into buying lots of the in-your-face-everywhere-you-go tins of sweet, biscuits, boxes of crisps and suchlike but think about it, do you really need them?? What will eating more of these foods give you?
Junk food is junk food no matter how colourful and attractive it looks or how good the buy one get one half price offer seems to be. Remember, there are clever marketing forces at work with very large budgets to make you feel that you have to have these things. You will have seen now that this starts from Halloween onwards!
Not to mention the fact that every office/staffroom/workplace seems to be stuffed with sweets throughout much of December.
One thing to add is that, you are in charge of what you eat, not your friends or your family, no one is spoonfeeding you Heroes, mince pies or sausage rolls. It’s perfectly ok to say ‘no thanks, I’ll have a sparkling water/tea for now or that looks lovely but I’m ok for now’. You aren’t offending anybody by saying ‘no’.
Try not to eat late at night as it’s a disaster for our weight (particularly those of us in perimenopause/menopause). It’s also really not good for our digestion or for our quality of sleep. Have your cut-off point in the evening for food, be firm with yourself, distract yourself if needs be.
This also helps us to go to bed earlier so a win-win.
We’ve covered getting the breakfast right and I would also add that it’s better to have 3 square meals rather than grazing from morning to evening so working on trying to keep to that routine can make eating well so much easier.
Having said this, I do need to add that if you do overindulge, enjoy it and get back on track afterwards. Beating yourself up is a pointless exercise.
I think everyone will agree that everything is easier when we’ve had a good night’s sleep.
Alcohol, eating late, too much or too late caffeine intake and overdoing screens can all affect your sleep quality and quantity.
Keep to a fairly regular sleep and wake time. Introduce a digital detox at least an hour before bed (that means no phones, no laptops or tablets), so as not to disrupt melatonin production (the sleep hormone). If you struggle with this at the very least have your devices on night time mode or use the blue light filter on your devices.
When we feel well rested, we make better food choices, are more productive, are more likely to go for that run/walk/gym session and of course, our energy and mood tend to be better.
Take time to do stuff that you love
What do you absolutely love to do? What de-stresses you and brings you joy? It may be an activity, a person or a place that lifts your spirits. Do more of this stuff. Schedule it in, book it, commit to it.
It is so much better than reaching for food or alcohol to numb, comfort or to take the edge off the day.
So there you have it. There’s plenty of little handy hacks that can help you stick to your health goals and avoid going overboard this Christmas. Don’t forget what we eat has a massive knock on effect on how we feel, so try to balance indulgence with lighter nourishing meals.
If you haven’t already, check out our FREE Resource Library and grab your copy of Indulge Without the Bulge for tasty recipes that will help you stay on track!