Everything in moderation, including moderation, right? So often bandied about as the 'top tip' for surviving the holiday season, yet so rarely accompanied by useful advice on HOW exactly to 'moderate'.
If you're not already firmly in the habit of lifestyle eating, moderation and saying no can be very difficult at the best of times, let alone with the added pressure and temptation that the holiday season brings.
1. Choose your poison
Rather than eating everything that's on offer for the full month of December, choose one favourite Holiday treat and enjoy a portion of it. If you do this right and keep the rest of your nutrition on track, you can easily include some 'off plan' holiday goodness every day and not feel like you're missing out. As per usual, it's all down to the 80% on plan, 20% off plan balance.
2. No more 'all or nothing'
Following on from the first tip, take the 80/20 rule one day at a time. Generally, if you choose to have a full diet blow-out day because you're going to be "good" for the rest of the week, it will lead into two days, three days and then suddenly it's January and you're not only fallen off the wagon, it's rolled down a hill and you're struggling to regain enough motivation to chase it. In short, don't let an all or nothing mentality get the better of you - work on a sustainable daily balance.
3. Timing is everything
Stick to eating at planned meal times without snacking. The biggest diet-derailer during the Holidays is the omnipresent bowl of snacks both at home and at work. If there's something on offer that you're dying to try, save it up until your main meal, then decide if you still want it. By taking this approach, you're not depriving yourself, you're just creating a situation where it's easier to moderate. The more you practice delayed gratification, the easier it becomes - and Holidays aside, it's an incredibly effective moderation tool all year round.
4. Get substitute savvy
Most traditional Holiday foods can be tweaked to offer something that's still delicious but a lot healthier - cookies, cake, stuffing et al. The internet is chock-full of healthy Holiday season recipes and with the big wellness movement we've seen of late, the shops are filling up with savvier options too.
5. Evasion is easier than 'no'
Sometimes it feels like everyone is out to sabotage your efforts and during the holidays especially, it can be very difficult to say no. There's the guilt tripping ("But I cooked it especially!"), the special made-up holiday rules ("It's Christmas - you can't watch what you eat at Christmas!") and the relentless wearing down ("Oh go on, just a sliver!"). The very simple, very effective way to say no without offending is to compliment and then postpone. "It looks great/smells amazing/is my absolute favourite. I'm really full at moment but I'd love to have some later/take a piece home with me/get the recipe from you." Nine times out of ten, the 'later' is forgotten about and all awkward diet talk has been cleverly avoided.
6. Incentivise yourself
Forget New Year's Resolutions - it's NOW you need to incentive yourself, not after the holiday damage is done. Set yourself clear goals for the winter months, whether it's signing up for a race, preparing for a winter sports break, or pulling out that party season piece you've been dying to wear as soon as you 'have the figure for it', to keep you motivated and on track.
Surely THIS makes it worth sticking to just one mince pie a day?
For more fitness, nutrition and motivation tips, visit the Charli Cohen website.