I couldn’t believe it when immediately after Halloween I noticed Starbucks had their Christmas cups out already! The sugar laden Christmas flavoured lattes are out and adverts for mulled wine and Bailey’s, and Christmas party food are all over our screens. Party season has landed!
Whilst its great to have an entire month when you just let it all go and enjoy 4 weeks of guilt-free living (I’m all for that), its also undeniable that we roll (literally) into January feeling bloated, tired, and overweight, making a vow to turn things around now that it’s the New Year.
You CAN enjoy the parties, your work team Christmas lunches, the Christmas dinners with friends, and then the inevitable day itself, and still feel and look great all the way through….bounding into the New Year having still had a ball!
Here are my 5 Smart Tips for Feeling Fabulous all Season Long
- Keep your blood sugar balanced at all times
- Stay hydrated throughout
- Make smart alcohol choices
- Be choosey about your celebration days
- Don’t totally snub your exercise routine
1) Keep your blood sugar balanced at all times
Balancing your blood sugar levels really is the key to sustained energy and weight management. If your blood sugar is fluctuating up and down throughout the day then so is your energy, and you can bet that fat is being stored on your body, mainly around your middle. You can of course enjoy extra treats and sweets in during the party season, I know I certainly will be, but it doesn’t have to cost you your energy and weight if you do it right.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to a smart Christmas and New Year:
Eat protein with every meal and snack, including the treats! So that means including a piece of meat or fish, eggs, or tempeh (a healthier version of tofu), nuts and seeds, good quality clean protein powder, legumes, with each meal and snack, and when the cakes or chocolates get passed around in the office enjoy yours in the presence of some protein, so with your lunch or a snack rather than on an empty stomach. This will help to slow the release of sugar from the treat into your blood stream, which can help to minimize the insulin spike (our fat storing hormone).
Include healthy fats with every meal and snack such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, coconut milk/oil/cream/butter/yogurt, grass-fed butter.
Eat good quality carbs only with meals and have them make up one quarter of your plate. Examples are brown rice, quinoa, brown pasta, sweet potato, squash.
Include plenty of what I like to call ‘nutrient-dense’ carbs, which are non-starchy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, chard, leeks, cauliflower….basically any vegetable that isn’t a root vegetable or a potato, and have these make up half of your plate.
Aim to leave no more than 3-4 hours between meals and snacks, so that might look like eating 4 times a day (3 meals and 1 snack), or sometimes 5 if needed. If you feel irritable, get cravings or feel your energy dipping then this is a sign that your blood sugar is dropping quite low, so make sure you are actually eating every 3-4 hours and that you’re including enough protein and healthy fats, whilst keeping carbs (especially refined and sugary foods) to a minimum (only as treats).
2) Stay hydrated throughout
Sip filtered water from morning, and include herbal teas, you’re aiming to take in a good 2 litres of water each day, even when you’re drinking alcohol, you’ll need a bit more in this case. It’s so important to be hydrated throughout the party season (and all year round please!) in order to keep toxins flushing through the body and to hydrate all your body’s cells. If the body isn’t hydrated it simply cannot burn fat. Also, help to fen off unwanted hangover headaches, which are basically due to dehydration.
3) Make smart alcohol choices
Alcohol causes rapid spikes in blood sugar levels in much the same way that refined carbs and sugary foods do. So the trick here is to avoid sugary choices and stick to the lowest sugar choices, and stay hydrated by having a glass of water in between each drink. Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and aim to eat protein beforehand. Stick to these 3 principles:
- If wine is your tipple then go for a good quality red and avoid white if you can. Dry and sparkling is also a better choice (an excuse to go for a good quality champagne then!)
- Use pure spirits such as vodka and gin and preferably with ice, soda water and fresh lime as this really limits your sugar intake. Use pure whiskeys and sip it on the rocks and pass on the mixers.
- Stay away from cocktails, mixers like coke, Fanta, lemonade (including the diet versions) etc., Baileys and other creamy drinks, and liqueurs – these are all laden with sugar.
4) Be choosey about your celebration days
During the party season it can be so easy to say “right I’m going to let everything go for the entire month” (or even 6 weeks for some people), and this is when we really can ‘roll’ into January feeling and looking pretty rubbish! It really doesn’t have to be like this. We can have a lot of fun and still feel and look good, and give ourselves a pat on the back in the new year when we don’t have to go searching for the nearest detox programme or start training for the nearest half marathon just to feel better about ourselves. These really are extreme measures that just don’t need to be taken if we keep things balanced. Look at diary for the week ahead and decide the days when you’re going socialize and the days when you’re not, on the days that you’re not then keep things clean (follow these points), sleep well, stay hydrated, no alcohol or treats. Then on the days that you decide you are socialiazing – keep things clean (follow these points), stay hydrated, whilst also including some alcohol and treats, if that’s what the event entails. Just because there’s a box of Celebrations at the end of your desk at 10am on Monday doesn’t mean you have to take any, if you fuel yourself properly with a protein based breakfast and have a protein based (an healthy fat) snack at hand for mid morning then you will feel immensely proud of yourself for not following the crowd! Then reward yourself in January with something non-food related like a new outfit, a day at a spa, a ticket to a match or the theatre with a friend….but only if you’ve gone through the party season like a superstar and followed these tips!
5) Don’t totally snub your exercise routine
You don’t have to use December as an excuse to totally shun any exercise with the intention to go mad in January to make up for it. Again this is an extreme measure that just doesn’t have to be the case, and nor should it. If you wont manage to get to your usual 3-4 gym sessions a week that’s fine, but how about managing 1-2 sessions instead, rather than none? You can increase walking but getting off the bus or tube a stop earlier to walk to and from work. You can also download the Tabata Timer app on your phone, pick a pair of body weight exercises and do a 4 minutetabata session some mornings before hitting the shower, go get your heart rate and metabolism up ready for some fat burning!
I hope these tips have been useful and that you will take them on board and come out of the party season feeling great, and proud of yourself!
Let me know if you have any questions!