Over the next few weeks, most of us will over eat and drink…after all it’s the festive season right? Eat, drink and be merry! There’s lots of TV ads showing very happy families sitting down at tables laden with glorious looking food and drink and we all start eating stuff which we wouldn’t normally even consider throughout the rest of the year!
No wonder the first week in January hits us like an express train!
So is there a way of having a great Christmas and New Year to minimise the effects of the January hangover?
You bet there is…just follow these simple tips and you’ll be able to indulge in all your favourite treats with a smile on your face!
1. Drink lots of water – everybody says it but nobody does it! By all means have a small juice and coffee at breakfast but then stick to water instead of fizzy drinks. Aim to have at least 5 glasses per day and definitely drink one just before, and during, a meal. If you’re having alcohol as well, make sure you drink water in between.
Why it’s good: Water is the best drink for your body, bar none. Drinking it will stop you feeling hungry, will make you feel fuller and help flush out all the toxins from the alcohol.
2. Have a good nutritious breakfast everyday – you’ll probably be eating treats for the remainder of the day, so no need to start off with a cooked and fat-full breakfast! What’s a nutritious breakfast? See my article here for some great suggestions The top 10 ingredients for the perfect breakfast.
Why it’s good: Having a good, balanced breakfast will set your body up for the day and leave you less tempted to start snacking early on.
3. Eat smaller portions of EVERYTHING – don’t deprive yourself of any favourite treats, just eat a bit less of all of them. Don’t let anyone else pile your plate with food, don’t be tempted to finish off the last roast potato “because it’s there” and never have seconds of anything.
Why it’s good: If you think that we probably eat 20-30% more things at Christmas, then reducing the actual amount you eat by the same percentage will let you indulge to your heart’s content.
4. Go for lots of brisk walks – we’re not talking about hour long, all-the-family-have-to-come-too rambles, we’re suggesting quick 10 minute walks by yourself (or with a conspiratorial partner) up and down the road. Do one after every meal if you can and halfway through the inevitable TV marathon in the evening. It’s easy to do, doesn’t require any special exercise gear and no one will miss you for 10 minutes!
Why it’s good: Increase your breathing and heart rate and brisk walking is one of the most effective exercises you can do. A 10 minute walk won’t burn off a Christmas lunch but it will help the body metabolise the food and drink much more efficiently, stop you grazing on those after-dinner treats and make you feel human again.
5. Eat healthy snacks as well as the unhealthy ones – wherever you are, make sure there is plenty of nuts and fruit readily to hand. At those “grab a mouthful of something” moments, make sure it’s one of these, rather than chocolate or another mince pie. Save up your “unhealthy” treat for a certain time of the day and then really enjoy it!
Why it’s good: You’ll probably put most of your unwanted calories into your body by “grazing” on unhealthy treats over Christmas. If you can swap out 50% or even more with healthy ones, then you’ll be that much better off.
6. Brush your teeth after every meal – and as many times in between. It’ll make your mouth feel fresh again and will stop a binge run in its tracks.
Why it’s good: As well as creating a taste barrier, teeth cleaning is a great cue telling the body that eating time is over. Most drinks don’t taste so good after either!
7. Use a positive mantra – decide on an expression like “I just don’t need that“, “I know I’m not going to have a second helping” or “Don’t even think about it” and say it to yourself whenever temptation rears it’s head…not just once, but lots of times. And when the temptation passes, give yourself a huge mental pat on the back.
Why it’s good: Doing something like this may sound silly, but positive self-talk is extremely effective at directing your behavior. Do it enough and it will become self-fulfilling.
8. Keep a mental food diary – we’re not talking about calorie counting, but a big food plate. Imagine putting everything you’ve eaten on one plate and see how it piles up during the day. Keep it in your mind’s eye and slow down, or stop, the food intake when the pile gets too high.
Why it’s good: There’s a reason why all these diet reality TV programmes pile someone’s weekly or monthly food intake up on one table. Actually seeing how much you eat can be truly scary. Use this technique to help keep in control.
9. Try to stop eating when you feel a bit full – difficult with all the tempting food and drink on offer but crucial in keeping the calorie intake down. Never let yourself get into “stuff” mode…push your plate aside if necessary or excuse yourself from the table for 5 minutes.
Why it’s good: One of the main causes of being overweight is eating when you don’t need to. Let your body tell you when it’s had enough.
10. Try not to eat after 7pm – have a small treat and a fruit tea but avoid the late-night binge on the leftover turkey, roast potatos and spirits bottle.
Why it’s good: Going to bed on a full stomach is NEVER a good idea.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll emerge out the other side in the New Year relatively unscathed, ready to face the challenges of 2015.