Do you start off with good intentions, then find yourself eating and drinking everything in sight ‘because it’s Christmas’ – and regret it as soon as you step on the scale in January?
December is no time for diets or deprivation – you deserve to enjoy yourself! But how can you find the happy balance between indulgence and self discipline?
It’s all about having a clear plan.
Your eat smart strategy
Decide what’s strictly off limits – bread, cakes, cheese, chocolate, liqueurs? Write it down and put it where you can see it. Tell your family and friends if you want added accountability.
Identify which treats you’ll allow yourself and in what quantity. Got a sweet tooth? Savour one really luscious mince pie, split dessert or just have a mouthful of someone else’s. Can’t resist the cheese board? Allow yourself a small taste of each one with a couple of crackers and don’t go back for more.
Fix your festive feeding days. Use the 80/20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time and have pretty much what you like the other 20%. Or check your social calendar for the week – pick two days to tuck in, then eat sensibly the remaining five. (A couple of days of overeating isn’t a disaster – but daily pigging out will leave you with some real work to do in January.)
Watch out for portion distortion – you don’t need to pile your plate sky high. If you go back for seconds go heavy on the veg. While you’re at it, eat slowly and mindfully – you’ll be less likely to overeat. If you’re hosting, send leftovers home with friends or family.
Heading out to a cocktail party? Eat a healthy snack before you leave home and just say ‘no’ to canapés. Move away from the buffet table. Enjoy a calorie-free conversation with friends instead.
Your drink smart strategy
Tempting as it is to enjoy a glass of bubbly while you’re getting ready, resist. Better to nibble on a heart healthy fat and protein snack. It’ll stabilise your blood sugar and prevent the alcohol being absorbed into your bloodstream too quickly.
Try a handful of nuts, a few slices of chicken, an oatcake with humous washed down with a glass of water. It also means you won’t walk into the party parched and knocking back the first available drink.
Alcohol lowers resistance. A couple of drinks and you’ll be tucking into those cocktail sausages like there’s no tomorrow. You don’t have to go all-out at every invitation. Decide which you want to be your BIG nights out and be the designated driver for the rest.
If it’s a drinking night, remember that alcohol is second to fat for high calories. See your tipple as a glass of liquid fat (which essentially it is) – it’ll help keep things under control.
The smartest choices are red or white wine, or a clear spirit (vodka is the cleanest) mixed with diet tonic, light cranberry juice or fresh lime and soda. Keep it simple and stay loyal to one type of drink. Pace yourself – one drink an hour max is a good rule of thumb. Do your best to alternate drinks with a glass of water. Channel Cinderella and stop drinking at midnight.
Mixing drinks is never smart and will make you want to puke the next day. Avoid flavoured syrups and full fat mixers like the plague. Use energy drinks as mixers at your peril. Never drink through a straw.
Repeat after me: I will not do shots.
Drink a huge glass of water before bed and take a milk thistle supplement which helps shift the alcohol out of your body. Take another huge glass of water with you.
If it all went pear-shaped…
The reason for your hideous hangover symptoms is dehydration. And because alcohol makes you pee more, you also lose key vitamins and minerals – most notably vitamins B and C.
The bad news is that the hangover won’t stop till the alcohol is out of your system, but here’s a few suggestions to ease your suffering:
Berocca – will put back the lost vitamin B. You could also try taking this or a sachet of vitamin C before you start drinking.
Sprite – proven to be the number one hangover cure (who knew?), the bubbles will help you feel less nauseous and the sugar/caffeine combo will give you a lift.
Bananas – replace lost potassium and as a natural antacid can help settle a queasy stomach. If you can face it banana on brown toast with peanut butter (vitamin B again) for a double whammy.
A warm bath – helps sweat out the toxins.
And I know you won’t want to hear this, but exercise will boost your metabolism – helping your body detox quicker. Maybe not the Insanity Workout but perhaps you could manage a yoga class or a walk in the great outdoors?
Write down your eating and drinking goals and review them regularly. If you fall off the wagon, don’t think ‘oh well, I’ve blown it anyway’ and carry on. It’s so much easier to put on weight than to take it off again. Start each day fresh with renewed motivation!
Here’s your go-to mantra in times of temptation: ‘Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.’
Want some accountability for your Christmas eating or drinking strategy? Tell us in the comments below. We’ll hold you to it