The Rules You Need To Keep You On The Wagon This Christmas

The festive season. A time for loved ones, sharing gifts and delicious, comfort food. Lots of it.

It’s the season for overindulgence, or so the confectionery industry would have us believe.’

At any other time of the year, we would more likely feel a sense of guilt having devoured treat after treat as it was offered to us. We would have a little more willpower to say ‘no’.

At Christmas it seems everybody’s discipline wanes away, suddenly the big C word is an excuse to say yes to every sugar-coated treat in sight.

This Christmas, no more excuses and time to be more aware of what we put into our bellies. Christmas day is the celebration – not the eight weeks leading up to it.

Of course, there is no need to be a Scrooge and say no to everything – but the golden rule (as always with nutrition) is moderation.

Here at Ultimate Performance, we’ve put together a guide to remind you of those nutrition pitfalls at Christmas and our top tips for avoiding them! With healthier suggestions and tips to prepare for certain situations – there’s no need to stress about losing control this season.

Rule #1: The Rule of Three

This rule is simple. You’ve got a week of festivities lined up – drinks with colleagues, Christmas markets with your other half and dinner at the in-laws. So pick one out of those three events that you are going to indulge in whatever you fancy.

The other two, stay disciplined and make the best choices you can in the situation. You might turn down overpriced mulled wine at the markets in exchange for a gin and tonic with your colleagues; perhaps you can’t resist your mother in law’s Christmas Pudding – so avoid the treats at the market.

It’s simple and works in any situation.

Nutrition Rules You Need to Survive Christmas

You’re at a buffet – pick one thing out of the three you’re eyeing up.

You’re at a restaurant – so pass up the starters and dessert but have whatever you like for dinner.

You’ll find that the more you question your decisions before you make them, the easier it becomes to say no and to really think about what you want.

Rule #2: Plan Ahead

If you’re out for the staff Christmas party, consider the following before you’re tipsy, and your willpower is waning.

  • Your drink of choice for the evening – calories in beer and wine add up quickly and will leave you bloated – opt for a spirit and mixer like soda water, sparkling water or juice and stick to it to avoid the hangover! If you love wine go for white or rosé, and order a spritzer to keep you more hydrated and reduce calorie consumption per glass. You’ll thank us for the clearer head when your boss decides to mingle.
  • If you’re having dinner, consult the menu beforehand – often with big Christmas parties you can even pre-order, so have a good look at the menu and make a sensible decision about what is best. A top tip: a turkey and veg roast is common on most Christmas menus – tell the kitchen you are gluten-free and miss out on the gravy and stuffing! Easy solution to keep clean.***

Nutrition Rules You Need to Survive Christmas

If you’ve been invited to a celebration with friends, the best advice is to take something with you.

That doesn’t mean take a Tupperware of chicken and rice with you as that may seem a tad rude, but throw a tray bake chicken recipe in the oven before you go and when you arrive with a big tray of food for all everyone will be your best friend!

Rule #3: Do I really want it?

Ask yourself this as often as you can – not just at Christmas either!

Do I really want that mince pie or is it just because it’s Christmas?

Do I really want the gingerbread latte with extra cream and sprinkles – or would my usual coffee suffice?

It’s easy to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in treats we’d normally pass up easily – so take a second and get rid of those festive blinkers before you say yes.

Rule #4: Can I make a healthier swap?

In any situation, you can usually ask yourself this.

As simple as asking for new potatoes instead of roast potatoes.

As simple as removing the skin from your turkey, or dipping a carrot stick instead of a tortilla chip.

Keep a tub of Greek yogurt on hand instead of double cream, making your own stuffing here instead of bread based packet mixes.

Nutrition Rules You Need to Survive Christmas

Fresh fruit makes a sweet dessert instead of a heavy piece of pudding, snack on popcorn and nuts and seeds instead of chocolates and biscuits.

All those little switches will make a massive difference when the new year comes round, and you have avoided those extra pounds.

Rule #5: Drink more water

It might sound really obvious, but staying hydrated is a surefire way to stay healthy all year round.

Aim for 2-3 liters a day and keep sipping it throughout the day.

It will keep you feeling full and ensure you don’t mistake dehydration for hunger.

Should you get a bit merry at the Christmas party, alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, and it’ll keep you talking straight and feeling great the following day!

Rule #6: Ditch the fast

You might think it’s a good idea to go hungry before a big meal or Christmas dinner, in order to not over-consume over the course of the day.

Nutrition Rules You Need to Survive Christmas

However, if you are very hungry when you sit down to a feast of foods, you are more likely to overeat and ask for seconds.

Saying no to dessert will be nearly impossible if you can justify it with skipping breakfast earlier in the day – instead, have a protein shake or some high-protein snacks like almonds or cashew nuts to avoid feeling ravenous when you’re offered leftovers.

***Please note: if you’re going to tell a kitchen you’re gluten-free, tell them in advance and let them know it is a preference and not an allergy. It can be very stressful for a kitchen to prepare a separate meal in a space free from contamination for people with allergies – to find out that you’re not allergic.

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