The material provided within this blog is for information purposes only and in no way supersedes any prior advice given by a medical practitioner or therapist. Should you follow any of the information provided, you are choosing to do so of your own free will, without coercion and in the full knowledge that the material has not been personally designed for you. Should you suffer from a medical condition of any kind or suspect that following any of the suggestions in this book may cause you a medical problem of any kind whatsoever that you should speak to a qualified medical practitioner for advice.
6 Key Principles to follow…
Below I have included the key principles that work for nutrition for health and fat loss. If anything you read, see or hear deviates from any of the six principles below, chances are you can dismiss it immediately as a short term fad diet. This is a way of eating that will enable you to achieve both fast and permanent results in a way that is 100% sustainable. You see this change has to be permanent so it has to be both straightforward and above all enjoyable. The good news is that my blog will show you how quick, easy and tasty eating this way is.
Follow these principles and you will get results…
1. Eating fewer calories than you burn (calorie deficit)
2. Eat more vegetables and fruits because they are rich in antioxidants and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals)
3. Eat plenty of protein for repair and maintenance of lean tissue, and to keep you feeling full (protein satisfies the appetite more than any other macronutrient)
4. Eat enough healthy fats from oily fish, nuts, avocados, coconut and olive oils (healthy fats are an essential part of a balanced diet)
5. Drink plenty of water to naturally detoxify the body, keeping the brain and body hydrated so it can function properly (green and herbal teas count towards this water intake)
6. Limit processed foods and artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
Now… Onto the good stuff…
How to Avoid Bingeing and Over-eating this Christmas…
The festive period is nearly upon us. For those of us trying to lose or maintain weight, this time of year can be difficult. Christmas parties, an abundance of delicious food in the supermarkets and a stream of enticing food adverts on the tv can make the Christmas period a minefield.
‘Falling off the wagon’ is common at Christmas time. One weekend of over consumption can soon turn into weeks. Alcohol and food binges can undo much of the progress we made throughout the year.
Bingeing: The following information doesn’t refer to individuals that have a Binge Eating Disorder, which is a medical condition. It simply refers to acute bouts of bingeing throughout the Christmas period.
We all know the feeling of having an uncontrollable urge to eat “treat” foods, despite being well past the point of satiation.
How do we stop this?
Let’s have a look at ways we can approach the Christmas holidays…
Don’t Have an All or Nothing Attitude
People often struggle with weekend bingeing. They aim for perfection from Monday to Friday, but fall off the wagon at the weekend. Striving for perfection on weekdays can cause an unwanted build-up of stress and the need to enjoy a blow out at the weekend. The Christmas season is the same. If you get into the mindset of ‘writing off’ the month of December, either because you’ve had a couple of “naughty” days, or simply because ‘it’s Christmas – time to indulge’, then there is a chance you are going to create some serious damage.
Rather than deciding to either be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ why not attempt to make better choices. For example, instead of gorging on chocolates and sweets after your turkey dinner, decide to eat a good protein and vegetable-rich dinner followed by a small amount of treat food for dessert. Yes this might lead to extra calories but it is a much better option to exercising no restraint whatsoever.
Structure Your Eating
Having no structure to your eating around Christmas is a recipe for disaster. We are all familiar with the continuous back and forth journey to the kitchen. Mindlessly snacking on food, often ‘for the sake of it’ can lead to an unnecessary increase in calories.
Avoiding this can be as simple as having an idea of the food you’re going to consume throughout the day. Set a plan for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and do your utmost to stick to it. Obviously occasions will get in the way but try and have a structured plan in place.
Cut Down on Alcohol
On top of the excess food consumed, we can easily find ourselves drinking more over Christmas. Alcohol is by far the easiest way to over-consume calories. Before we know it, we’ve had well over 1000 calories from an evening of drinks.
If you like beer, you could consider switching to something like Coors Light lager which has around 180 calories per pint.
A gin and tonic contains around 160 calories, however swapping the tonic for diet tonic can reduce the content to just 60 calories. A vodka and diet coke contains around 70 calories.
A further issue with alcohol is the way it can affect us on the days after the occasion. Cravings for junk food can increase after over-consuming alcohol, which can further ramp up calorie consumption.
The only way to avoid these unnecessary calories is to drink in moderation.
Become Knowledgeable on Calories
I’m very much of the action defeats knowledge mindset. Regardless of how much knowledge we acquire, it becomes pointless unless put into practice. However, education on the amount of calories in food can be a worthwhile endeavour if you’re looking to lose weight.
For example, let’s say you want to enjoy some dessert after your Christmas dinner. If you opt for some cheesecake and ice cream you could be looking at around 500 calories. However, if you switch to a lower calorie ice cream such as Halo Top ice cream, you could reduce the total calories significantly.
Being aware that foods such as nuts, bread and butter are all high calories in relation to their volume, can save you a bunch of energy consumption.
So Why Do We Over-Eat?
Let’s delve deeper and look at the root cause of over-eating. Here are some common reasons that crop up, and some exclusively around the Christmas season.
Stress/Lack of Sleep
Stress and lack of sleep (or quality of sleep) have powerful effects on our hormones. Both increase our hunger and cravings for processed carbs and fats by decreasing our leptin hormone, which tells us to stop eating and increase metabolism, and increasing our ghrelin hormone, which tells us to increase hunger and decrease metabolism.
If that wasn’t bad enough, stress increases the amount of cortisol in our body, a ‘fight or flight’ hormone which is designed to keep us alert. This will make sleeping at night more difficult, thus leading to further disruptions to our leptin and ghrelin hormones.
All of this is especially important around Christmas, which can be a particularly demanding time of year. An increase in workload, travelling long distances to see family, and an increase in our spending, are just some of the things that can cause us stress, whilst late nights and excess food / alcohol can disrupt our sleeping patterns.
That’s why it is a good idea to continue with your exercise regime throughout December as it will act as a stress busting activity whilst helping you get a good night’s sleep.
Train with a friend or partner if it helps you to stay motivated.
Many of us take holidays from work over Christmas. Unfortunately there are only so many times you can watch Christmas movies, and boredom can soon set in.
Boredom is one of the most common reasons people snack. For the most part we don’t snack due to hunger or cravings but because we have nothing to do. Giving yourself something productive to do means you spend less time thinking about eating.
This is another reason that continuing with your exercise regime is a good idea. Try to keep yourself productive during the festive season.
As well as exercise, hydration tends to go out of the window at this time of year. We can easily forget about drinking water.
Dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches and can cause us to overeat. The thirst signals in the brain are quite similar to our hunger signals, and are easily confused.
You might think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Research has shown that drinking 500ml of water before meals can help us to consume less calories during the meal.
So aim to drink a large glass of water before mealtimes. My advice at Christmas is the same as the rest of the year. Always keep a bottle of water with you, the bigger the better.
For many people, Christmas time is party season. Staff parties, family parties, and New Year’s parties to name a few. The temptations at these parties are endless.
Alcohol and food are on endless supply.
So how do you manage?
Again it comes down to making better choices. Generally, if there is going to be food at a party, it’s a good idea to eat something before you go. Choose a meal with lots of high quality protein and fibre which will leave you feeling fuller.
If you are eating at a buffet, then portion size is the key. A good tactic can be to make a rule that you will only make ONE journey to the buffet table. Grab your plate, fill as much as you’d like (within reason) but don’t return to the buffet table a second time. Also, sitting a good distance away from the food could help you eat less.
When it comes to alcohol, check out this guide. What is your go-to drink?
Become Mindful of Your Hunger
Mindful eating is a topic that will gain traction in the coming years. Becoming 100% conscious of your hunger is a difficult process but more than achievable. If you actually stopped and asked yourself whether or not you’re hungry, 9 times out of 10 throughout Christmas the answer would be no.
When eating, become 100% conscious of the food you’re consuming. Become aware of the taste, texture, smell and appearance. Use all of your senses to enjoy your food.
Don’t eat whilst distracted, for example whilst watching television. People that eat whilst distracted, tend to eat more calories during that meal and end up eating more throughout the day.
Mindful eating will force you to eat more slowly. We know that people that eat slowly tend to eat less calories and are leaner as a result. This could be due to the brain realising it has reached satiation. Take breaks throughout your meals, take sips of water and remember to ask yourself, ‘am I genuinely hungry?’
Enjoy the Christmas period 🎄
Despite all of this advice I still want you to enjoy the festivities.
Most likely, you will consume more at this time. They key is to try to make better choices than you did last year.
Don’t kick yourself for not being 100% perfect. You shouldn’t feel stressed or overwhelmed by the coming weeks. It’s supposed to be a joyous time.
Having the correct mindset leading into Christmas is key.