5 Evidence Based Tips to Help You Weather the Christmas Period and Keep on Track with Your Health Goals
Dr McKee’s programmes are focused on helping you gain back control of your health and build healthy habits that last. Dr McKee is running the first Open Day of 2017 in New You Monday, January 15th places are limited* so click here to reserve your free 20-minute consultation. Below she introduces 5 evidence-based tips to help you weather the Christmas period and keep on track with your health goals.
There is no doubt staying healthy at Christmas is tricky.
But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
My advice this time of year would be not to save up all your healthy intentions for the New Year.
This just makes things harder for you.
As soon as January rolls around you feel as if you have this huge mountain to climb. It puts you under unnecessary pressure which often can result in going to extremes such as juicing, detoxing and other non-evidence based restrictive methods to make up for your overindulgences. These methods are one; not going to lead to long-term weight loss, and two; are a miserable, punishing experience.
There is a balance to be struck.
It’s about finding that sweet spot where you feel you are keeping on track most of the time and yet feel able to indulge in some of the wonderful things that Christmas time brings.
The key this time of year, is not to completely throw the towel in, but to find a happy compromise. Below I list 5 tips that can help support you in finding that balance and keep you on track.
A lot of my clients find applying an 80/20 rule or if that sounds too much, a 70/30 rule beneficial to their health goals. They eat well and maintain their exercise 80% of the time during this period, the other 20% of the time they indulge in their favourite festive foods. For example; can you maintain your healthy breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks per day? Then indulge in some Christmas fare in the evening? Having these foundations in place makes it more likely you will eat less in the evening, be less likely to give in to temptation out of hunger and feel healthier the next day. Thus, making you more motivated to engage in healthy practices such as exercise.
Make a list (check it twice ;))
Have a think about what your absolute favourite Christmas foods are. Are they your Mother’s home made sausage rolls? A hot port in the local? A bit of cheese? Pick your top 5 Christmas foods/drinks and list these somewhere handy. These are the things you should look forward to over the Christmas period. Everything else isn’t worth the calories and the consequent New Year deprivation. If possible, if you can pick the instances you will be able to have these 5 favourites over the coming days even better. You can use the thought of these upcoming intentional indulgences to help resist other temptations that aren’t on your list of favourites.
You are going to be having some of your favourite foods this time of year. Why wouldn’t you want to savour every mouthful? Below are two suggested ways in which eating more mindfully can help you stay on track and enjoy your food more this festive season:
- Put your fork/spoon down between each bite, this allows you to slow down and enjoy the taste more. It also helps you feel fuller as it encourages you to chew your food more.
- If you can do one thing to help your healthy habits this holiday season avoid eating at the TV. Eating whilst distracted can cause us to consume up to 30% more. Not eating at the TV can go a long way towards reducing mindless overconsumption.
Don’t skimp on breakfast
You rationalise, if I cut back on breakfast it saves me more calories for the rest of the day no? There is no doubt the calories you would have consumed at breakfast will pale in comparison to the compensatory calories you will take on later on as a result of missing out on this key metabolic meal. Not to mention that breakfast foods tend to be on the healthier side. You can check out my recommendations on the best breakfasts to help you resist temptation throughout the day here.
Try not to feel guilty
If you do indulge, try not to feel guilty, instead, think about what you can do next to stay on track. Research has shown that those who feel guilty after overindulging had more weight gain than those who felt less guilt. How do you feel less guilt and stay on track with your healthy habits? Read this post to find out more.