How to keep your diet on track during the festive season

December is always a challenging time of year.

How to keep your diet on track during the festive season

If you’re trying to stay focused on your health and fitness, then Christmas is always a tricky time. But, add in the stress-eating caused by a global pandemic, and this year’s festive season is an incredibly exhausting emotional roller-coaster.

For those of us who are easily tempted by a mince pie, Christmas can be a bit of a convenient excuse. Pretty much from 1 December onwards, you can excuse any dietary indiscretion or missed workout with the catch-all absolution of “Well, it is Christmas!”

The trouble is that if you write off the entire month of December as a seasonal blow-out, you’re making it exponentially harder for yourself to rebalance the books and meet your fitness goals in the other 11 months of the year.

However seriously you’re taking your fitness journey, the two main levers that you’re working with are diet and exercise. In order for your fitness regime to be sustainable, it has to be adapted to the realities of your life. There’s no point being a martyr to your regime if it makes you miserable – you simply won’t stick it for any extended period of time.

Think back to last year, the challenge was how to avoid the massive box of Cadbury Celebrations that Brenda from Accounts kept tempting you with. This year, it’s an existential debate about how much Baileys to put in your coffee in order to make it through the day.

There’s no easy answers, but here’s a few suggestions to help you navigate through the coming weeks.

  • If you’re going to treat yourself, go for the good stuff. An eggnog latte sounds festive, but they’re not good for you and in reality are pretty gross. Buy yourself some really good quality chocolate. Stash a bottle of single malt somewhere. Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Recycle gifts to avoid eating them. Depending on your job, often at this time of year suppliers or business contacts will send you gifts – bottles of wine, champagne, chocolates, cheese. Accept them graciously and then pass them on to members of your family, your assistant, or other colleagues at work. Be honest about it – explain where they’ve come from and why you’re passing them on. If you keep them you’ll eat them.
  • Normally, social occasions during the Christmas period can be a bit of a minefield. This year, it’s probably going to be a miserable video call. Just try and make the most of it.
  • Keep working out. Hopefully, your gym is still open. Or you’re braving the northern hemisphere winter for a workout in the park. You may be lacking in motivation, and you may be tired, but the more you can keep some semblance of your normal regime going, the easier it’s going to be to get back into the swing seriously when January comes around.
  • Don’t rely on New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are a bit of a trap –  they kind of assume that the last year has been a bit of a waste of time. If you’re not clear on what your goals are, sit down in a quiet place and write them down. Getting to New Year’s Eve, loading up on a few glasses of champagne, and then announcing your ambitions loudly to the world – whether it’s climbing Everest, launching your career on Broadway, finding your soul-mate, or whatever – is a bit ludicrous and setting yourself up for failure. Make it your resolution to continue to work towards the goals that you’re already working hard on.

Hang in there. Hopefully, this will all be behind us soon and we’ll never have to speak of 2020 ever again.