It may well be inevitable that you will overeat at some points over the festive period, but rather than try to refrain from enjoying a celebratory meal or snacks, try to play the long game. If you know you have a big dinner or party, plan around it by trying to attenuate your eating either before and/or after. People that are good at maintaining bodyweight are naturally good at compensating for over indulgencies by moderating in subsequent meals, often unconsciously. Remember, it’s calories in and out that matters most and it doesn’t matter if you have your whole daily intake in one meal or over several meals, if on average you are not eating too much.
Intermittent fasting is another strategy gaining popularity and one you may want to consider. For example, having a longer period of not eating after a big meal out. You could follow a similar pattern to a time-restricted eating, such that you are only eating 8 hours of the day, and not eating the other 16. Or simply wait longer until you next eat. There is some good evidence to suggest that extending the period of not eating is actually better in terms of helping us cope with what we eat and evidence also that after fasting for 16 hours you actually eat less than otherwise in the later meals.
Make a plan to exercise and set some goals, even if these are a bit more relaxed than your regular ones. Don’t write off exercise for the whole of December thinking you’ll double up in January. Consider doing some of that exercise on an empty stomach. Exercising fasted, or without any newly consumed carbs, helps your body utilise more fat. So perhaps a morning moderate intensity exercise (e.g. walk, run, cycle) may be a good way to help burn off some fat.
Exercise is also of potential benefit in helping to regulate your appetite and curb hunger. Both in terms of a distraction from eating and as a way of helping you compensate for overindulgences.
If you are a frequent exerciser, you may also consider higher intensity exercise such as HIIT training. This exaggerates the effect of exercise both in terms of calories burnt, fat burning and appetite control. And contrary to belief does not make you more hungry.
To help you manage the festive period you may want to look at what you are eating and when. The festive period is conducive to eating luxury/tasty foods that are often high in one or more of fat, sugar and salt, even on a vegan diet. In addition, you are often eating and drinking more at some meals than normal (e.g. Christmas lunch), and eating and drinking later in the evening (e.g. your office party).
Try to therefore to moderate the types of foods you eat across the day. For example:
• Don’t eat high carb foods at every meal, perhaps have either a low carb breakfast and/or low carb dinner.
• If eating and drinking late at night, try to make these low carb meals. Favour lower carb drinks such as red wine and spirits with sugar-free mixers.
• If doing exercise, try to refrain from having lots of carbs before the exercise, or immediately after exercise if you can, to maximise the effect of the exercise.
• Try to base most meals around a good source of protein and vegetables predominantly.
Hopefully, these strategies will help you navigate the party season in good health and arrive in January ready for new challenges. Never feel guilty about enjoying yourself and above all, have fun and a great Christmas!
Damian Soong - CEO, Form, formnutrition.com
Form is a range of plant based nutrition built around the belief we can be the greatest version of ourselves while being mindful of others.
Protein Mocha - by Shona Vertue
- 1-2 shots of espresso
- 2 scoops of form nutrition vegan protein powder
- 1,5 cups Plenish almond milk
Pour hot coffee and protein into a blender. Heat the almond milk.
Once milk is heated pour it into the coffee and protein mix, blending it for roughly 3-5 seconds.
That is it !