How to eat and drink your way through the festive period.
Let’s face it.
Most of us treat Thanksgiving until New Years Day (well the 2nd of January if we have overindulged and need those comfort hungover foods…) as the equivalent of a relationship hall pass.
You know the one…if you were ever to bump into your celebrity crush and something happened, it’s fair game.
So every food that we love and don’t eat during the year is fair game from November to January..
This doesn’t have to be a problem, and I would argue that you should never restrict the types of food or drinks you indulge in unless you have a specific time based goal that makes it a necessity.
But instead of just letting loose for this period, a little restraint and some ground rules can ensure you not only survive the holiday period without gaining an extra 10 kilograms, but thrive on it and enjoy the extra social occasions with your friends and family.
The social lubricant of the masses, especially at the numerous functions we are all expected to attend during this festive season, it also has one of the most harmful effects on the body in terms of ageing, body health and composition.
So (sorry ladies, the phrasing is a little outdated) let’s stick to the Gentleman’s Rule here.
Order your first drink with everyone else and drink it at the same time as them, when everyone orders their second drink, you do the same but sip on it for the rest of the time you are at the function.
Hangover and bloating be gone.
With so many party occasions and buffet style meals going on (thanks Mum, you know what I’m talking about), we often overload our plate with everything we want to eat, might want to eat now, or potentially could want to eat next week.
Pick a protein source, pick 2 carb sources and 1 fat source..eg Turkey, Sweet Potato, Bread and a salad with dressing.
Don’t go overboard what you would normally eat just because there’s a lot of variety. You’ve eaten at restaurants before, you don’t order half the menu just because it’s there.
Not in the “Namaste, open your third dolphin chakra” kind of way. But in the take your time, enjoy the food and company, don’t mindlessly shovel the food in your mouth kind of way.
You have about 20 minutes from eating before you start to feel full (a fact I have personally used to great advantage in many eating challenges), so take your time with your food and let it settle before you go back for second breakfast or third dinner.
It would be remiss of me to not mention the one thing that has…the smallest effect here on your body composition during the holiday period. It is much easier to eat 200 calories less than to burn that in an exercise session, but what is important is sticking to the habits we have built throughout the year and setting yourself up for the coming season.
If you normally train in the morning, try and stick to that routine. If you normally train in the afternoon, guess what? Same deal.
Nobody likes wasting time, so if you have already hit your training session the odds are your mindfulness over what you are putting in your mouth will be increased.
I’m not going to go into the relationship between the stress hormone cortisol and increased body fat/ fat distribution ratios here. Mainly because I am a glorified monkey and would be lying if I said I understood it as well as it has been documented..but if you are interested check out the numerous articles on PubMed.
What I will do is what I am good at..anecdotal evidence. The old n=1.
The more you stress about weight gain, the more cortisol you have, the more you crave comfort foods, the more depressed you get, the more you produce cortisol..I’m starting to go in circles here…which is exactly what I have observed happening to myself and clients when I overthink it.
Stay relaxed and enjoy yourself, there is no such thing as bad or good foods, just food which serves a different purpose at this time in your life.
This time in your life should be for enjoying the holidays with friends and family, and reflecting on the things we are grateful for.
These are the simplest strategies and mechanisms that I will be putting in place personally this holiday season..and if you really get stuck remember that it is the season of giving.
So give someone else the food off your plate to make more room for dessert.
Happy holidays gang!