The holiday season is upon us again.  At this time of year it's easy to get swept up in a whirlwind of office parties, socialising with friends and family get-togethers, but if you're not careful the indulgences of the season can catch up with you and as the New Year begins you find that your jeans don't button up quite as comfortably as they once did.

But with a little bit of planning you can still enjoy some holiday treats and then breeze into January rather than spending weeks trying to undo the damage you just did.

Start by printing out a one page calendar for December (you can download one here) and write down all your upcoming social events. Make a note of whether each event will include a meal, buffet, nibbles, drinks etc.  

Now choose one or two events where you'd like to enjoy a little bit of everything that is on offer.  This doesn't mean you're giving yourself permission to binge eat/drink all day long, rather you're allowing yourself to enjoy some foods and drinks that might not be the healthiest but you know you will thoroughly enjoy.  

For the remaining events be sure to set yourself limits BEFOREHAND so that you can plan and prepare ahead of time:

  • Plan your other meals that day accordingly.  For example: if I know I'll be eating out in the evening I'll make sure I have a protein rich breakfast and then large salad for lunch - foods that are high in fibre and water and low in calories (salad greens, cucumber, celery etc) that will fill you up .  Don't fall into the trap of starving yourself all day - you'll be far more likely to over indulge in the evening.
  • If you're going to a restaurant go online and look at the menu. Choose a good quality protein meal with lots of fresh vegetables.
  • If you know there's going to be a buffet go for the low starch foods that are higher in protein, fibre and water (meat, fish, crudites, salads etc) and set yourself a limit of how many times you will visit the buffet table.
  • If it's a drinks and nibbles event make sure you eat a good meal before you go.  Remember, a meal that is high in protein, fibre and water will keep you feeling fuller for longer so you're less likely to be tempted by the nachos.
  • Be careful of liquid calories.  Alcohol has plenty of calories but zero nutritional value so set yourself a limit before you go out and stick to it.  
  • Focus on socialising  - put your energy into chatting to old friends and making new ones so that eating and drinking are not the main focus of your evening.

But the temptation to overdo it over the holidays isn't restricted to social nights out.  Huge tubs of chocolates, giant boxes of biscuits and hundreds of seasonal treats are stacked floor to ceiling in every supermarket at this time of year.  

Personally I find it so much easier if I simply avoid buying any Christmas extras until a few days before the big day.  When there are mince pies in the cupboard it's all too easy to justify your indulgence... "it's only Christmas once a year" after all.  So keep the temptation out of your kitchen so you don't have to deal with an extra inch or two on the waist come January.

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