With Christmas fast approaching, we are often asked how to keep nutrition goals in check whilst knee-deep in festivities.
We ought to start with this, though, which is absolutely crucial: there is no one-size fits all when it comes to nutrition. It’s important to note that this notion doesn’t just apply to what to actually eat (in the sense that two different people with different circumstances and goals might be eating very different things) but also relates to what habits and behaviours support those individual goals. Weighing and tracking food might be a vital part of a budding athlete’s nutrition programme, whilst for someone else this might be a very unhelpful behaviour. So – bear this in mind, and if you’re ever unsure, chat to us!
In the meantime, we’ve put together a short guide with a few points of food for thought that are aimed at the general health-conscious fitness enthusiast looking for some practical advice!
1. Plan and Enjoy Treats Mindfully
This is 100% not a blog article that is going to tell you to ditch the pigs and blankets, throw away your advent calendar and turn down the Christmas pudding. What we do encourage though is for you to enjoy your treats mindfully. We’re all been in that situation where there’s a tub of celebrations in the office, and you grab one each time you walk past, not even really thinking about it (to the point where you even catch yourself eating the Bounty)… and before you know it, the tub is gone. And the saddest part – you don’t even really remember enjoying them! So instead, if you choose to enjoy some chocolate or are really looking forward to your Nan’s trifle, do just that – look forward to it, and enjoy it! If you make a conscious decision to choose your treats and really enjoy them, the likelihood is you’ll feel more satisfied and be less likely to over-eat. If you really struggle with this idea, plan portions and servings so you don’t find yourself getting carried away. Excited to eat one of the mince pies a client left for you? Take one and pop it in a tub, so you can enjoy it with your tea in the afternoon. Committing to the portion then and there might help you ‘accidentally’ eating five later.
2. Think Drinks
Tis the season for increased alcohol consumption! Most of us will enjoy a little extra tipple or two over the holidays, but often we can find ourselves having a glass of of something ‘just because’. Just because someone else was, and they offered. Just because the bottle was open. Just because it’s there. So, if you find yourself jumping on the bandwagon out of convenience, consider getting some other options so that they’re ‘just there’ instead. And it doesn’t need to be something super tragic – in fact, it might help to get something different do you can still enjoy the novelty of having some out of the ordinary! As with the first point tip, it can enable you then to really choose when you actually want a drink and enjoy it, instead of having some ‘just because’.
Here are some ideas:
- Dash Water
0 cal sparkling water infused with the flavours of wonky fruit – what’s not to love!
- Alcohol Free Beers / Ciders
There are tons of alcohol free versions of many of our favourite beers and ciders, from BrewDog to Koppaberg, so consider stocking up on a few of these ready for the festivities.
- Cocktail / Mocktail station
This is a fab one if you’re hosting – creating a DIY cocktail station with all the trimmings is not only fun for those drinking, but also means you have some interesting alcohol-free versions at your fingertips too. Grab some fresh fruit and herbs for muddling, and pop some ginger ale and soda water in the fridge, and you’ll be good to go.
So if you find yourself suddenly clocking up the beers or wines, plan ahead so you can swap a few of your alcoholic drinks for some of these fun alternatives that you will actually enjoy, and leave you feeling fresh.
3. Avoid Skipping Meals
If we have a big feed, it can be tempting to try and ‘make up for it’ by skipping a meal, such as breakfast the next morning…. But we’ll keep it simple: don’t. Try to think of every day as a new day and a fresh start. So, if you have one day where you may have overeaten, let’s move on and start the next day anew. Under-eating the next day will mean you then have two days away from your normal routine, where it would likely serve you better (and no doubt help you get back to ‘normality’) by returning to your usual meal routine the next day. Not to mention all of the physical side effects of under-eating, including changes to mood and energy levels – it will not do you any good! Plus if you’re left feeling hungry later on day two, you’ll be all the more likely to overeat once again.. and the cycle repeats itself.
4. Don’t Slash the Rest of The Tyres
There’s a saying we like to use: if you got a flat tyre, you wouldn’t go and slash the rest of them! So how does this relate to nutrition? If you have a meal or day which doesn’t fit your nutrition goals, then don’t write off the whole week. It can be easy to slip into the mindset of “well it’s Thursday and it’s my work do tonight, so that’s my week of nutrition written off”. Absolutely not – let’s enjoy that night by all means, but it doesn’t mean we then need to be eating leftover quality streets and ice cream for breakfast on Saturday. All is not lost!
5. Nail your Other Building Blocks
In a season where nutrition is inevitably going to stray somewhat from our normal routine, it’s time to work extra hard on the other stuff to give your body the best chance of feeling good, being full of energy, keeping away from colds and bugs, and leave you raring to go! Do what you can to give yourself a great night’s sleep. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Have a nutritious breakfast every day, and be sure to get some colourful fruit and veg in. Allow yourself an hour away from Christmas chaos to hit your favourite class at the gym. Keeping these key building blocks in check will make it all the more likely that you will emerge from the holidays still feeling like you!
6. Take a step back….
…and enjoy your Christmas. We can easily get bogged down feeling like Christmas is a spanner in the works for our health and fitness goals. but in all honesty, 3 or 4 indulgent days over the holidays are a drop in the ocean in relation to your whole year. So instead of writing off the month for the sake of a few days, let’s think about our habits for the other 360 days of the year and how we can be happy and healthy for the long term. And here’s to really enjoying this time with our families!
And if this leaves you feeling lost…
Chat to us. Here at SCFIT we are lucky to have a few Nutrition experts on our staff, who can offer bespoke advice tailored to your goals and circumstances. Just reach out to us if you’d like to find out about the coaching options we offer.