The HWFL programs are designed to set you up with skills and habits that will help you manage a healthy weight no matter what the occasion. The festive period can be the perfect time to test and challenge the skills you have learnt and to determine which ones will work for you in the long term.
Here are our top five tips to help you maintain your health goals whilst enjoying the celebrations…
1. Ease Expectations
This can be the most difficult time of the year to lose weight, so don’t make unrealistic expectations for yourself – you will be setting yourself up to fail. Instead of losing weight, a more realistic goal may be simply aiming to maintain your weight over the festive period.
Try to avoid the “all or nothing” mindset. Even if you overeat at Christmas lunch or dinner, that doesn’t mean all other healthy habits have to go out the window. Set yourself an action plan, then even if you over-indulge or skip an action, you can get back on track quickly.
2. Set Yourself Up for Success
The food is just one small part of this time of year – try to focus on enjoying the company of your family and friends — play some games, dance, sing, laugh and reminisce. Some ways to help shift the focus away from the food include:
- Fill your tank before you go: Have a healthy meal or snack at home before parties. It can be tempting to ‘save the calories’ for a feast, but if you start on an empty stomach, it’s easy to lose track and overeat. Something small and wholesome a little while before you start can make all the difference.
- Bring the better choices: If you are asked to bring a plate, opt for a healthier option that you know you can enjoy without the guilt.
- Put some distance between you and the snack table: Standing around the snack table could put you hundreds of calories behind before the meal even starts! Instead, grab a choice couple of items, put them on your plate, then move to the other side of the room. If it’s out of reach, it’s easier to avoid.
3. Practice Portion Planning
It’s probably impractical to take your portion planning disc to the party, but try to keep it in mind when dishing up your meal.
- Try to only fill one plate: be selective in what you choose. A small helping of 2 or 3 things that you really enjoy, fill up the rest of the plate with healthier options.
- Mindfulness is key: practice eating slowly and mindfully in the leadup to your event. That way, you’ll be better equipped to get more enjoyment from less on the day.
- Remove the temptation: take away the empty plate, rather than leave it there tempting you for seconds. If you’re hosting and you’ve got leftovers, send your friends and family home with takeaway containers full so they’re not taking up space in your fridge and your mind.
- Downsize your dishes: If you’re dining out, try an entrée in place of a main, and look for your ‘free foods’ like a side salad if you need a bit extra. If you’re serving yourself and the option is there, opt for a smaller plate.
4. Evading Empty Kilojoules
Alcohol is the biggest contributor to empty kilojoules and they can add up quickly — the kilojoules in a 375mL can of beer or 180mL of wine are approximately equivalent to a 30-minute walk!
Other than the empty kilojoules and the effect on your weight, excess alcohol can also pose a serious risk to your health. Aim to have no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion to minimise the risks of alcohol-related injury.
Some tips to keep the alcohol and empty kilojoules to a minimum include:
- Having a glass of water alongside and alternate sips between the alcohol and water.
- Adding ice cubes or soda water to make a spritzer (and to dilute the alcoholic drink).
- Once you finish your drink turn the glass upside down or put a napkin on top to avoid any unwanted top ups.
- Try sipping by the clock — taking sips at a set interval, for example, every 10 or 15 mins. If there’s an analogue clock in view, take a sip when the minute hand hits 3,6,9 and 12.
5. Mindful Motivations
When sheer willpower wanes and the sweet treats are beckoning, remind yourself what it is that you enjoy about your new healthy lifestyle — is it improved mobility, less pain, better sleep, less medication, or more energy to spend with the kids or grandkids?
Being mindful of your achievements to date can help spur you on to stick to your goals and motivate you to resist temptation. Make sure to give yourself a mental pat on the back whenever you overcome temptation!
Always remember — beyond what you eat, it’s important to look after yourself.
Festivities can be a stressful period, so make sure you set some time for yourself to relax and for activities you love, and try to get plenty of good nights’ rest!
From the team here at Healthy Weight for Life, we wish you a happy and healthy festive period!