Updated: Apr 5, 2020
The month of December takes the cake (literally) when its comes to parties. Food and wine is all around, and lots of it. Plus left overs.
It's a time to eat, drink and be merry. But what if you are part way into a fat loss phase? Should you stick to your diet, or put it on hold until January? How do you stay on track, so that your hard work isn't wasted?
In terms of progress, it's entirely possible to lose body fat and eat 'off the plan' occasionally. Here are some nutrition tips to build flexibility into the month of December, keep your health on track and enjoy quality time with your family and friends.
1. Plan to indulge, but it's business as usual the next day
Life is short, and you should let yourself off the hook sometimes. If you have an event that involves delicious food and you want to be part of it, you should! Don't over think it, just make up your mind to indulge. If you decide, then it's all part of the plan. Before you attend a Christmas event, accept that you will eat the foods that you like. When tomorrow comes, continue to eat as normal. There's no need to feel bad or make up for it, just pick up where you left off and stay focused on why your health and fitness is important to you.
2. Savour the food you eat
There's a difference between mindless eating, and actually stopping to enjoy it. Keep this test in the back of your mind - when you say yes to an appetiser or reach for seconds, are you just eating because it's there? Be honest. If the answer is yes, then think about the top three foods that you really want to try, or your favourite main course that you'd like for seconds. If there's no desserts that take your eye, then pass - there will always be other desserts! It's a lot easier to maintain you health and shape if you choose foods that you actually want to eat. If you are going to indulge, make it worth it.
3. Don't fall into the Monday diet trap
It's all too easy to justify a free-for-all binge now, and promise that you will start a strict diet later. But this is a very dangerous line to draw. If you can rationalise one binge this way, then you can just as easily justify a meal of not-so-healthy left overs the next day, and then perhaps a daily treat for the next few days. Your initial resolution can quickly become a 'Get out of jail free' card.
4. If you host a dinner, send your guests home with left overs
It's the perfect time of year to have family and friends over to celebrate and enjoy one another's company. It's harder to return to your normal meals if you have a house full of left over treats and extra foods that you don't really need. Rather than keep them in your house to tempt you, buy some plastic containers ahead of time and share the left overs among your guests. Keep some for you, but not all of it.
5. Drink extra water if you eat extra food
Water supports digestion and helps your body to eliminate toxins. If you eat a big meal or foods that you don't normally eat, remember to keep your water up. Sip on water frequently, and have a big glass about half an hour after your last meal. Your liver and kidneys will thank you!
6. Stay active and keep up your normal exercise
If you can, keep your training and general physical activity levels the same. This is a simple exercise in variable control - if you know that your food will be up and down, try to make sure that your exercise remains the same so that you don't add another factor into the mix.
Take home message
Your diet should permit some flexibility. If you can't maintain your diet and enjoy your social life, then it's not sustainable. Every person who starts a diet will at some point 'break' the diet. This is normal. The people who lose body fat and keep it off don't let this stop them. They keep their head in the game.