Hacking your way to a healthier holiday season

By | December 26, 2020

Well this year will always be a year we will remember thanks to COVID. This pandemic has reminded us how important our health is which inturn has seen many of us focus more on our health and fitness.

Sure, you’ve fallen off the wagon a few times — haven’t we all — but for the most part you’ve made sure to limit your intake of alcohol, steer clear of unhealthy foods and have stuck to your exercise routine more often than not.

Then December rolls around, and somehow the word “Christmas” flicks a switch in your brain where all sense gets thrown right out the window and before you know it you’re chin-deep in glazed ham and a sea of drained alcohol.

It doesn’t just last a day, either. In fact, most of you reading this will likely still be in a food coma that started Christmas Day and probably won’t end until well after we’ve wished each other a Happy New Year.

This temporary loss of willpower isn’t exactly a hidden secret — it’s quite openly called the “silly season” for good reason — but that doesn’t mean you have to throw out 12 months of discipline and hard-work like you will that bag of peeled prawn heads.

A study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that Aussies will stack on a staggering 35 million kilograms during the Christmas holiday period.

Rather than see the Christmas/New Year period as some kind of free pass where the only thing taking a holiday is logic and self-care, recognise it for what it is: a danger zone that requires mental preparation and the ability to practice a form of restraint where rejecting that extra mince pie is possible, even if it is nana’s secret recipe.

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By following a few simple rules and staying alert for triggers that lead to overindulgence, you too can enjoy a holiday season that’s not going to make you wish Santa had left you a new pair of jeans several sizes larger under the Christmas tree.

LIMIT PORTION SIZES

For some reason this time of year makes it seem completely acceptable to pile amounts of food onto your plate that would be unacceptable at any other time.

If you don’t think you have the fortitude to limit your portion sizes, try using a smaller plate – a simple decision that studies have shown results in people eating a considerable 30 per cent less.

DRINK WISELY

Yes, this obviously means don’t try and outdo Uncle Geoff in a NYE drinking game, but also don’t drink and eat at the same time.

Why? Your body will break down the booze over the food and turn it into fat. If you’re going to drink, do it before or after your meal, but not during, and do it in moderation.

GET MOVING

Used to driving the kids absolutely everywhere? Try walking or cycling instead. Same goes for things like backyard cricket — rather than commentate from the sidelines, get out of your fold-up chair and get involved.

Neither activity will see you shed weight like a jockey jogging while clad in cling wrap, but at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will keep your metabolism ticking over and reduce the chances of putting on unwanted weight.

PREP BEFORE A PARTY

It’s easy to fill up on whatever food or drink is put in front of you at a NYE party, so pre-empt this by filling up on water (hydration = good) and healthy snacks before you go.

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The ability to not gorge on ham and cheese will hold you in good stead for when you next get on the scales.

DON’T SKIMP ON SLEEP

Feeling tired and low on energy is the perfect catalyst for reaching for comfort foods rather than a healthier option, so avoid temptation by ensuring you’re well-rested and thinking with a clear head.

Excess alcohol consumption can also mess with your sleep patterns, which is another reason why going hard on the booze can play havoc with your health. Moderation, as ever, is key.

GET FIT AND HEALTHY WITH ADAM MACDOUGALL

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Adam MacDougall is the creator of The Man Shake. A new, healthy, weight loss shake that is low in sugar, full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals that you can have on the run and leaves you feeling full.

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