Back on track after Christmas - 3 things to focus on
How do you get yourself back on track when you’ve had the best part of two weeks of eating foods that are full of sugar, fat and/or salt? Your taste buds get used to this overly flavoured food and your previously healthy way of eating seems a lot less attractive than it used to.
If you’ve experienced numerous food lapses and re-lapses over the festive period and now you’re in a full scale ‘food collapse’…don’t panic! You’re only ever 1 meal away from getting back on track.
Please don’t feel you’ve got to put your life on hold and take the ‘New Year, New You’ approach. If you try to be too extreme you’ll probably rebel and give up on your resolutions within the first week.
There's been so much highly flavoured, high fat, salt and sugar products around plus plentiful alcohol, mixed in with late nights, additional stresses and possibly reduced exercise. It’s no wonder we don’t feel in the greatest of shapes as we start back to work in the New Year.
But don’t beat yourself up!
This is about getting back on track gradually. Don’t expect to go from a week or so of indulgent eating to perfect macros in a few days. This is the recipe for a rebound or feeling miserable!
If you want some extra motivation to get back on track after the festivities, join the 5 Day Free challenge to end carb cravings and balance your blood sugar levels so that you can get back on track. It’s running from 7th-11th January and we’ll all be doing it together.
1. What to eat (to get back on track)
Much of what’s traditional Christmas food will be either higher salt, fat or sugar than we’re used to. These three things tend to stimulate the pleasure centre and make us want more of it.
You’ll probably find that you’re on a bit of a sugar roller-coaster if there’s been chocolates, mince-pies, Christmas cake and crisps around to munch on. Your blood sugar levels are likely to be awry and you need to get them balanced.
Rather than cutting out everything from your diet and wondering what is left, focus on getting loads of good stuff into your diet so there’s less room for the junk. You’re trying to move gently from foods that are high calorie, but low in nutrients, to ones that are higher in nutrients and less calories.
If changes are too extreme you’ll put off doing it and overwhelm yourself. The aim is to get back on track gently without major upheaval.
Try the following for getting your meals back on track:
Get some protein and healthy fat at each meal to help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss. Protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolise it.
Keep your meals simple – protein, healthy fats and salad or veggies initially. Keep away from the heavy carbs (pasta, bread and potatoes) until your blood sugar levels are a bit more even.
Gradually reduce the amount of stimulants you’re consuming – tea, coffee and alcohol.
Keep your water intake up too – have a glass with every meal; have a mug of hot water while you wait for your tea or fresh coffee to brew.
2. When to eat (to get back on track)
Have breakfast within an hour of getting up to stabilise blood sugar from the very first part of your day. You are more likely to avoid those mid-afternoon energy slumps and the insane carbohydrate cravings that go alongside them.
Factor in some protein and fat at breakfast as this will keep you fuller for longer and your blood sugar levels balanced. Try eggs, nuts, yoghurt or fish – keep processed meat like bacon and sausage to a minimum.
Eat when you’re truly hungry. With so much food around, you may be in the habit of eating just for the sake of it or because other people are. Also, it’s easy over the festivities to overeat at one meal and then not really be hungry for the next one. This can lead to snacking or grazing, particularly in the evening.
Have a glass of water first as hunger and thirst are often confused. And try to eat your evening meal early enough to allow for digestion before you go to bed.
3. How to eat (to get back on track)
It’s easy to munch through some sausage rolls, a bag of crisps or a bowl of chocolates without really noticing what you’re eating. This is especially true over the last week or so if you’ve been socialising, play charades or maybe watching the Christmas/New Year movie while snacking.
Start being more mindful with your eating and notice what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
Ask yourself if you really want that mince pie or piece of Christmas cake.
Try to change your thinking from “I want it but can’t have it” to “I can have it but I don’t want to”.
Ask yourself if you’re hungry or if in fact thirsty.
Be curious and have awareness – notice how the richer food makes you feel.
Eat off a smaller plate and put your fork down between bites.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen and put your phone away too).
Choose 1 of the following to try this week to get yourself back on track:
Get rid of the refined sugars, processed carbs and sugary drinks and focus on complex, unrefined carbs
Include some good fats and healthy proteins at each meal
Reduce the amount of tea, coffee and alcohol and start increasing water
Eat when you’re hungry and allow time for digestion
Pay attention to what you’re eating and reduce distractions.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.