This time of year can be incredibly difficult for many of us who are on a healthy eating journey. Most of us may be super busy with work, Christmas shopping and festive celebrations with work colleagues, friends and family, which means our motivation to stay on plan can take a real dive.
This week I saw many posts from members of my Facebook group who are struggling right now, and so I thought I would write a post to try and give some tips and strategies to help you stay on plan. I really hope they help. Feel free to comment on the bottom of this post with some of your own tips.
1. Start your day with a healthy balanced filling meal
This is one of the most important ones I think, especially if we are working or out all day. If you try and make an effort to eat a healthy balanced meal at the start of the day when you tend to have more control over what you eat, it will help control the urge to grab all the things that may be on offer over the festive period.
Having a good healthy protein at breakfast time, combined with some healthy fibre or vegetables and reducing high sugary options will keep you well satiated. There is nothing worse than heading out for the day to do some Festive Shopping on an empty stomach and then finding yourself so hungry by midday, that you want to eat everything in sight. The same will go for any festive foods on offer at work.
If you have to head out the door super early, then prepare something the night before. There are lots of grab and go breakfasts you can take with you in a food flask or heat up at work if you need to.
Breakfast is going to be the meal you have the most control over on these busy days, so choosing wisely will really help.
Some of my favourites are:
- Breakfast Hash
- Crustless Breakfast Quiche
- Egg Bites
- Make-Ahead Bacon Egg Potato Breakfast Bites
- Corned Beef Hash
- Sticky Sriracha Mushroom Omelette
- Breakfast Pizza
- Easy Waffle Omelette
- Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bites
- Poached Eggs over Garlic Mushrooms
- Sausage Patties - I love these with some mushrooms and tomatoes or egg too if I am super hungry.
if you need some more ideas, check out my breakfast section. I do recommend avoiding breakfasts that are high in sugar though, as this will likely result in you craving more sugary foods.
2. Don't let one day off plan ruin the whole month
There are going to be the odd days here and there where staying on plan is just not possible. It's the festive period and this is a lifestyle change. Depriving yourself of everything on offer is just going to make you crave it even more.
So if there are some days where you know it is going to be impossible to stay on plan, allow yourself those days off. If you know in advance, some of the festive celebrations ahead, you can plot those in your diary - for example a work meal out or a day that has been planned for work colleagues to bring in some treats.
A good tip for ensuring this doesn't turn into several bad days, is to try and prepare some things in advance, so that you are organized for the day after. This will mean if you are feeling tired and just not inspired the next day, you will have some quick and accessible healthy balanced foods to heat up that you can enjoy for your meals.
If you don't prepare, it will be easier to just say "oh one more day won't hurt" and then before you know it, it's been a week of overindulging and you feel awful, sluggish and bloated because of it.
3. Walk, Walk, Walk
This is a good time of year to try and get in as much walking as possible, especially if you are out Christmas Shopping.
If the shops are all pretty close together, try and walk between as many shops as you can. Here in Canada most of the retails stores are located outside and can be quite a distance from each other, it's so easy to get into a habit of driving everywhere. Instead, if I can walk to some of the shops, I will park the car in a convenient location where I can walk to as many of those stores in the vicinity and not keep moving the car instead. This may not be possible if it's near a busy road or the weather is really bad.
If you are heading somewhere by bus or train and can do some walking for part of the journey, that is another great option to get in some additional exercise.
Lastly, suggest some family walks. If there are some festive activities going on in your area where you can get the family out walking and get in some fresh air, it will be good for everyone. Also if you have a day off and the weather is mild, suggest a family walk, or you can even just go out yourself and get some exercise. Put together a fun playlist of music on your mobile phone, grab some headphones, wrap up warm (if you need to) and get some steps into your day.
The festive period can involve quite a bit of sedentary time, like watching TV and playing board games, so it's important to try and incorporate some exercise where you can and get the whole family out and moving. If you do have some games planned, maybe try and find some which involve moving, there are some great ones available nowadays. Even something simple like charades can get you up out of your seat.
4. Be prepared for parties and gatherings
Got a party planned where there are going to be lots of foods on offer? Then a good option is to make up some healthy choices to take along too. If it is a celebration with friends and you know they are also trying to be healthy, you can suggest they do the same too. That way there will be some healthy items to choose from amongst the not so healthy.
Here are some great recipes for Appetizers, Party and Finger Foods
5. Limit Alcohol
This is a bit of a hard one for me to advise on, as I don't really drink alcohol nowadays, maybe once in a while for a very special occasion, but always a very small amount.
However, in my younger days when I was probably out socializing a bit more where alcohol was involved, I know that they more alcohol I consumed, the more hungry I became later on. That would usually involve a bit of a binge at the end of the night when the extreme hunger set in and not the best choices in foods either.
So if I had one suggestion I would make, it is to limit alcohol consumption.
Eat a good healthy meal before the event happens if a meal is not included in the celebration. Then for every alcohol drink you have, try to have a non alcohol (preferably water) inbetween.
It's a good option to choose low calorie alcohol options too if you can, things like gin and slimline tonic, hard seltzer, light beer, vodka and soda.
The other thing about overindulging on alcohol is that it will leave you feel very groggy the next day and you'll be craving all the stuff you are trying to limit. So if you can limit these days it will help you stay focused.
6. Make some low calorie Festive Treats
Got some festive foods you love that you find hard to avoid? Try and see if there is a low calorie version that is still tasty that you can enjoy in its place.
There may even be some options of things you can make yourself to reduce the calories.
Try and avoid buying lots of Festive treats and having them in the house. This can be dangerous, especially if you are stressed or a comfort eater. If they are available they will be hard to resist. Obviously this may be difficult if you have other family members who are not healthy eating, but you can still limit the amount you buy by not going to overboard with stuff you really don't need. If you think you will find it really hard to resist any of these items in the house, try not to buy any until closer to Christmas.
This time of year can be really hard if you love things like Mince Pies, which can normally have quite a lot of calories just for one and when you see other family members enjoying them unlimited, the last thing you want is to feel deprived.
A great alternative is these delicious Mince Pie Baked Oats - super popular on my facebook group right now and the best part is, they taste amazing too.
The recipe makes one large baked oat serving, but instead you can make 3 mini muffins from the mix (some even get four) and you can count one as and when you fancy it. They are great for bringing to parties or family gatherings too, as everyone will love them, so double or triple up the recipe and make a couple of batches.
7. Plan your Christmas Dinner
Many of us decide to allow ourself the day off on Christmas day and that is perfectly fine if you want to do that. It is only 1 day out of a whole year.
However, if you want to try and incorporate some healthier items into your day, look to see if there are any things you can adapt so they are slightly less calories.
I have lots of low calories versions of many of the components to a Sunday Dinner, which are great for Christmas day.
Here are some of my favourites
- Roast Potatoes
- Onion Gravy
- Quinoa Pork and Sage Stuffing
- Slow Cooked Chicken (not everyone likes Turkey and this is actually so effortless to make and super delicous)
- Yorkshire Puddings
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Mash
- Maple Glazed Carrots
- Brussels Sprout Gratin
- Buttered Cabbage
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Onion
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Paprika
- Creamy Vegetable Bake
- Garlic and Parmesan Mash
8. Non Food Gifts
If you exchange gifts over the festive period, don't be afraid to tell friends and family that you are trying to eat healthier and you would prefer non food gifts if possible.
Food gifts can often be simple and easy to grab for the person who is buying the gift, but I am sure they would prefer to get something they know you will love and use. Some food gifts will be unavoidable but if you can balance it out, it will be much easier, as then you won't get past Christmas with lots of indulgent food items you will not want to waste.
There are lots of great healthy cookbooks out there too. So you could always offer those as a suggestion for a gift. That way you have lots of choices for healthy recipes you can cook.
9. Fill your spare time with some non food involved hobbies
Now is the time to restart some of those hobbies and activities you pushed aside or start up a new one if you didn't have any before.
The excitement and buzz of the Festive Season can mean that in the moments when we are not busy with lots of things to do, it can be all too easy to grab for food, even when we are not actually hungry.
So use that time to keep busy with some hobbies. I love to draw/paint and have my own little art space I will take myself to if I am feeling really stressed or need some distraction. Another hobby of mine is working on my family tree. I started back in 2003, but I never get bored of occasionally looking back over records and documents and seeing if there is something else I can find.
I love tv shows and films too, but those can be a weakness for me and many others too when it comes to food, as we tender to eat mindlessly in those moment. So it is better to find a good balance and try and move away from the TV if we can.
Another great thing to do when you have free time, is to have a sort through clothes and other items. Have a sort through cupboards, drawers , garages and sheds etc and see if there is stuff you no longer need that you can give to a charity. It's a great way to have a clear out of stuff before all the new stuff from Christmas takes over the house. Especially if you have children and lots of toys.
10. Online Support
Lastly if you need some additional support, don't forget my Slimming Eats Facebook Group - where you can get lots of daily meal ideas, post your food diary to keep accountable, seek advice and support and just join in with a friendly community that will help keep you motivated and on plan.
11. More Motivation Tips for your Weight Loss Journey
and if you need some additional tips for motivation, Check out my post on 10 Tips to Keep you Motivated on your Weight Loss Journey
You've got this!!!