The celebrations seem to start earlier each year and the supermarket shelves are already groaning with party foods and overly-tempting fare to undo all your good intentions of either losing weight before the party season or making it difficult to 'stay with the programme' whilst having fun with friends and family and enjoying a bit of well-earned time off over the holiday period.
You may not have considered it but one thing you have to body swerve at this time of the year is malnutrition. Yes, malnutrition. A scenario where your body is short on the nutrients that are going to keep your metabolism cranked up so you burn fat rather than storing it, keep your immune system strong so you don't fall prey to bugs and viruses that are all too prevalent during the winter months and have the energy to party until you drop and not feel tired and looking for another 'hit' the next day.
There are loads of dietary strategies that can ensure that you are not malnourished and these cannot be over-emphasised: eat little and often to avoid hunger and cravings, include protein in every meal and snack to nourish you and keep you feeling fuller for longer, get plenty of essential and health-promoting fats into your day (particularly Omega 3's - oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, 'happy' eggs), aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day (preferably first thing in the morning on an empty stomach), steer clear of starchy carbohydrates in the evening, get seven-eight hours sleep per night wherever possible to dissuade the appetite hormones from playing havoc with your blood sugar and snack on soup - it really is nutritional perfection in a bowl!
Partying and a bit of overindulgence, particularly alcohol and nibbles fill us up but don't necessarily provide the essential nutrients so you may wish to consider supplementing your diet at this time of the year. But remember, the clue is in the word! Supplements are supplementary to a good diet not instead of a good diet so don't fall into the trap of thinking they are miracle workers. However, here are a few that you may wish to consider right now.
Vitamin C. What many don't appreciate is that this vitamin is water-soluble so has to be continually topped up. The immune system depends on it to keep us strong so if there are days when you can't get enough fruits and vegetables into your diet and party time beckons, supplement with a good quality 500-1000g supplement.
Omega 3 essential fats. It can be hard to get sufficient 3s into your diet when you are on the go all day or your day doesn't go to plan so buy some flaxseed oil and sling it onto your soups, smoothies or vegetables or just have a tablespoon every morning.
Magnesium. Many don't get enough of this essential mineral daily. We often get sufficient foods rich in calcium (milk, cheese etc) but not enough magnesium to keep a good balance of the two for bone and heart health so in addition to getting more leafy greens into your day you may wish to consider supplementing - go for a good quality product and follow the daily recommendations.
Chromium. Cravings can be the dieters' nemesis and this is often because of blood sugar highs and lows which see us heading obsessively for the sweet trolley. If this is you, consider a daily supplement of chromium picolinate which has been extensively researched and really can knock cravings on the head.
Herbal extracts. The liver is in charge, make no mistake about that and a healthy liver means healthy delivery of nutrients to brain and body cells and efficient detoxification. We live in a world of toxins and unless your diet is squeaky-clean the liver has a lot of work to do. Consider a month or two of milk thistle which is available in tablet, capsule and extract form and when partying involves alcohol, feel confident that this natural plant extract will help your liver along!
For more tips on how to lose pounds before the festive season and ensure that you don't pile them on when partying, join Fiona Kirk on Facebook, www.facebook.com/fionakirkbooks or see her website www.fatbustforever.com