The count down towards the silly season is on and for some, this time of year is filled with a never ending downhill slide of extremes of excess eating and drinking followed by guilt-driven restriction.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can step off the devastating slippery slide by taking a fresh look at how you think about and react to ‘wayward’ consumption.
For a start, one day of ‘wayward’ eating or drinking is not a concern
A one-off doesn’t ‘wreck your plan’, ‘ruin your success’ or ‘mean you’ve blown it’. Your body doesn’t clock on and off every day; it runs on a continuous adjusting cycle over your entire life. Tap into that cycle and look at how your week and month are going.
There are plenty more days in the week and month that allow you and your body to adjust and account for the extras you have. What happens in the longer timeframes is more important than what you just did in a single day or single meal.
Know that it is perfectly okay not to eat ‘perfectly’
It is perfectly okay to eat more one day and less the next. It is actually very normal to eat more sometimes, less at other times.
It is perfectly okay to balance your food choices over a week and not get locked into or wound up and worried about daily targets.
It is perfectly okay to save up red-extras (you might call them forbidden foods but I don’t) for a feast.
Extreme food restriction and dieting will trip you up, each and every time
Your body and mind will fight you all the way if you cut down the kilojoules too low or start putting too many foods in a totally forbidden zone. You will go to the event starving which makes you more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Persistent self-talk will convince you to break lose with a ‘what the heck’ attitude, ‘after all you’ve been good’, and entice you to party hard and overindulge because ‘you can jump back on the strict diet tomorrow’.
Adjust your personal goals
Accept that over the silly season with more wining and dining, preventing further weight gain may be the new season’s goal if you are overweight.
Be more discerning about when, where and with whom you celebrate. The timing may mean there’s no need for a full meal to follow. The venue may offer you little choice or not involve eating or drinking. The people may by good or bad influences or unimportant in your life.
Develop a party strategy
Finger food and platters
Formal sit-down dinners
Your body and mind will thank you when you don’t over-do it.
Save those uniquely special foods for special days
Look forward to the Christmas goodies on Christmas Day. If it’s fruit mince tarts you want for breakfast on Christmas Day, go for it. At Easter, save the easter buns and chocolate eggs for the big day.
Anticipation is part of the excitement of special occasion foods and having a stockpile in the pantry weeks before the big day presents a daily challenge for you to say no. It also makes them ho-hum and less special. If you do buy ahead, pack non-perishable foods for celebrations into a cardboard box that is kept out of sight, in a deep cupboard or less used room.
By keeping special foods truly special, you’ll feel good about enjoying them on the big day.
Avoid attempting a trade-off between exercise and food
Think you can easily burn off the kilojoules in a night of partying? A nice thought and being active is great but in reality, trying to burn off excess kJs with more exercise is close to futile.
Exercise is great for clearing the cobwebs and freshening up.
An active body is also better able to naturally regulate its size and intake. Exercise does burn kJs but the amount of effort you need to put in to burn a meal’s kJs is more than most can dream of doing.
Consider locking in an exercise session or walk with a buddy for the morning after a party; not to burn off the booze and food but because you just might be less inclined to overindulge when you know you have an early start the next day.
Better manage your social diary
Be selective about which invitations you accept.
Arrive late or depart early to reduce eating and drinking time and opportunities.
Plan get-togethers and social catch-ups that don’t involve eating and alcohol.
Food and kilojoules are not something to fear
You can’t live without either of them.
Nor are they naughty or bad yet how often do you see (or use) words that imply guilt, suspicion, foreboding or treachery attached to food and eating? Guilty treat, naughty pie, toxic sugar, secret, forbidden, temptation, good or bad ... even ‘wayward’ implies something off track or bad.
It’s time to put food into a neutral position - food is neither good nor bad (unless it is rancid or off and makes you sick!). Settle back and improve your decisions about why, when, what and how you eat.
By choosing foods that add more to your health, you will find that all foods fit comfortably into your life without guilt.