Of course this is the time for dieting, new regimes, promises of no more of this and must have less of that, but really, how long do these resolutions last?
I am not suggesting you don’t set yourself some health goals – goals are often motivating and can focus the mind. However, what typically happens at the beginning of a new year is an unrealistic back-lash to the major excesses of the festive period, which rapidly wane as the winter drags on, life gets back to normal and the idea of adding in punitive hours of exercise, avoidance of a long list of tasty foods and the tedium of counting calories swiftly leads to disillusionment.
This is such a punishing way of behaving and for most, results in failure, so an added sense of doom, misery and self-loathing. This then, ironically, tends to increase the very behaviours you have been trying to avoid i.e. turning to alcohol, sweet foods / treat foods to make you feel better …..STOOOOOOOP!
How about you approach 2017 with a new, simple health philosophy, which means you will never have to gird your loins for a repentant January ever again? Just imagine going in to 2018 without any of this baggage. Jan 1st comes along and you are in great shape, feeling fab, looking fit and healthy – no stress.
Rather than being ‘good’ or ‘being’ bad, being ‘on’ the diet or ‘off’, how about you make your focus about being really good to your body all the time. This doesn’t mean you can never have the things you love to eat but it does mean that you have these ‘treats’ in a considered and controlled way to ensure you feel and function at your best – feeling fab is addictive, so it gets easier.
Being hard on yourself and trying to enforce willpower over temptation is exhausting – it never works long term. So find a way to get the balance right, to not feel deprived but shift your focus so you feel excited about feeling good rather than getting excited about having a donut (or whatever your thing is).
Having a little of your favourite dessert after your meal is ok – but do not limit or skip real, wholesome, filling and nourishing food in the belief that you’re ‘saving’ your calories for pud! Having a glass of something lovely with a great meal – fine, but not every night glugging at a bottle without even noticing what and how much you’re drinking. Enjoy, relish and savour a glass of your favourite tipple, but set yourself a sensible limit, only X number of nights a week, never on an empty stomach and go for the most expensive you can afford – that way you’re less likely to drink it mindlessly.
Start thinking about food as information for your body, not just calories. Some foods feed your cells, your brain, your muscles, your nerves. Other foods irritate, inflame and trigger hunger and cravings. The quality of the food you eat determines the quality of how you feel. If you eat a well-balanced meal, your drive for something sweet will be greatly diminished and you may even find you don’t actually want anything else – so ask yourself the questions first rather than just having it because it’s there. Give yourself a good 10 – 15 minutes post meal before tucking in to something more as you’ll probably find you don’t want it, and if you do, have a small amount and really focus on it, so you notice that you’re eating it.
This is such a common irony – people who love their food and drink tend eat and drink so quickly that the pleasure it over really quickly, giving barely any time to savour and enjoy the very things they love.
Also, get used to being comfortable with being hungry now and again. I don’t mean fall-down starving, but comfortably empty. Try and allow 4 – 5 hours between meals, 3 hours from last food / drink with calories to bed time and leave as long as possible before having breakfast. This will give your digestive system a chance to rest – essential for good digestive and immune health, but also, while you’re not eating, you’re burning fat – not possible if you are eating every few hours.
Make not having the things you know are not good for you a positive, not a negative. Those foods and drinks that make you feel bloated, heavy, hung-over, that cause heart burn, headaches and weight gain are doing you harm, so how are they a treat? Enjoy the lightness, the mental clarity and energy that comes from not having these foods. Relish in the freedom of not having obsessive thoughts about food and out-of control cravings.
Feed yourself well with good fats (oodles of extra virgin olive oil, avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds, high quality butter), a range of proteins (eggs, pulses, high quality meat and fish), lots of fibre-rich foods (mainly veggies, as wide a range as possible) and use non-processed carbs (sweet potatoes, squash, berries, quinoa, buckwheat, whole oats).
If you eat 80% of these foods, your body will cope perfectly well with 20% of indulgences, it’s all about the balance. Gain back control of your weight and your health by wanting and choosing to eat foods that heal not harm. There is a profound enjoyment and liberation that comes from this that means you are never in battle with your food or your body – the longer you do it, the easier it gets and the greater the benefits.
This means, by the time Christmas 2017 comes along, you will be in such radiant, rude health you will find you do not want to revert back to your old habits just because it’s festive time. Do allow yourself to taste the things you used to consider treats, you’ll probably find they no longer do it for you, which will make
navigating the chocolates, mince pies, cake etc. so much easier.
If you do indulge, then ensure you:
– plan ahead and get in some intermittent fasting before or after i.e. aim to do 16:8, so you eat within 8
hours and fast for 16 – this is a great way to rest the gut and re-set your fat burning
– get in some high intensity interval training on the day of any big indulgences. Short hard bursts of
exercise will trigger hours of revved up after-burn, so you’ll be burning off more of what you’re eating
– Have a good glug of raw apple cider vinegar in a little water before a big meal to help your digestion and
blood sugar management.
– Aim to be the last person to finish your plate of food or glass of wine. This will greatly reduce how much
– Always match the alcohol you drink with an equal amount of water.