Suffer from Festive Meal Anxiety? Here are some top tips to enjoy this festive season but not totally derail your goals and aspirations for this year (or next!!). The over-reaching goal for my coaching clients is to enjoy the festive period without thinking that it has to be “earned” or “deserved”

1. PLAN AHEAD!!

While you don´t want to be a killjoy you can mitigate the damage while still having fun. The key is to decide beforehand how you’ll navigate things:
  • How much alcohol will you drink (maybe reigning this one in, especially if it’s a work do)?
  • Will you order a dessert or split one with your significant other.
  • Will you stick to some healthier menu options like fish or steak or will you choose something heavier like pasta carbonara or a cheese platter and then forego wine and dessert?
  • Be honest with yourself as to whats important. Don’t eat to others expectations.  Stick to YOUR strategy.
Planning ahead of time and getting clear on your plan of action will help keep you on track with your goals without waking with the hangover from hell.

2. LEAD WITH PROTEIN

Always aim to make sure that you fill your plate with a good protein like turkey, chicken, lamb, or fish with some vegetables first and the fun stuff like pigs in blankets, as a “side dish” or accompaniment. This simple process helps make a meal more tasty AND meets your goals. The same is true for the multiplication of social outings that occur over the Christmas period. Be aware of your choices, especially if you have a packed social calendar.

To make things healthier, you can ask for all sauces on the side and request that your rice be steamed and not made with butter. Simple swaps like this work wonders and help reduce overall calories without too much obvious restriction.

Buffet Bonus.  Top tip.  Choose the small plate; Don’g go all Alan Partridge on us and choose the 18″ plate, take a side plate and fill that using the above strategy.  Going back for more is allowed!!

3. DON’T STARVE YOURSELF

Eat regular meals! The worst thing you can do is starve yourself so you can let loose at the events themselves.  This technique always used to feature in most peoples thought process.  I will skip lunch so that i can enjoy my large evening meal.  Except we don’t.  We still have lunch and then the meal.  This not only exacerbates an all or nothing diet mindset, but can do some serious damage to your waistline. You arrive at the event starving, you overeat because you’ve lost all sense of control and you end up going way over your energy requirements for the day.

Then you wake up the next day hating yourself and the cycle continues. Exactly what we don’t want eh??

4. CUT OUT SNACKS

The quantity of delicious temptations readily available around the festive season is simply obscene. You know – the party sausages, platters, chocolates etc.  Aim for 3-4 meals that actually fill you up, and you will be less likely to raid the Quality Street or the chocolate Santas hanging on the tree.

5. ENJOY YOURSELF (without losing the plot)

There are two schools of thought here. One is to dramatically tighten up your diet and just let loose on certain days, ie Christmas day, Boxing day, New years etc. If this works for you, and you have a healthy mindset and relationship with food, great.

However, for MOST people, this only reinforces an already dysfunctional relationship with food. They feel like they “have to eat everything right now because it’s my last chance”, which sets them up for a ¨justifiable or socially acceptable day-long (or week long) binge.

The smarter tactic is to take a more moderate approach. Enjoy yourself, relax, eat the foods that you don’t normally eat at any other time of year, but eat to the point of satiety. Next meal, back to how you would normally eat.

My top tip here is to eat socially.  Try and stick to eating with others.  Talk to the person next to you, slow down and eat slowly.  You will eat less if you do.  Trust me, this is a game changer.

Remember, if you still want more later on, you can always go back for leftovers.

6. DRINK WISELY

It goes without saying that calories from alcohol still count and add up pretty quickly.  Stick to clear alcohol like vodka, gin and spirits. These tend to have less calories and will wreak less havoc on your waistline.

Try to limit cocktails! Just one seemingly innocent mojito can set you back 250+ calories, or the fabled Long Island Ice Tea at 600+ cals which is basically the equivalent of a meal!

Wine is a nice middle ground but have a preset limit of how many glasses you’re planning on drinking. Glasses being the operative word here, not bottles.

7. STAY ACTIVE

Depending on how busy things get with family and obligations, going to the gym or getting a workout in isn’t always an option.

Walking is brilliant because it keeps you active and is something you can do anywhere.
Shoot for 12-15k steps over the holidays. Better yet? Drag the kids out and make it a family affair.

8. MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTHY HABITS

You don’t have to turn into some sort of crazed fitness bunny trying desperately to burn off festive excesses, but do stick to your usual 3-4 day training routine where possible and right through the holidays.

This will help keep you in touch with your goals and more likely to make you think twice before you chow down on that 3rd mince pie.

9. KEEP YOUR VALUES IN MIND

When you are crystal clear on what your values are, whether it’s fat loss, health, or kick ass energy, any choices you´re faced with making will immediately become easier.

Remember. MOST IMPORTANTLY.

Long term habits and progress is what matters the most.

If you’ve brought yourself to the point of food freedom and worked on emotional regulation, navigating the holidays will be infinitely less stressful and problematic.

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