So, hopefully you’ve taken heed of a few of the tips I gave you in the first part of this series – shame on you if you haven’t! Today, a set of tips you can employ at your meals to minimise the damage of festive over-indulgence. I should point out that I’ve borrowed a fair few from Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Body in this article, check it out if you’re unfamiliar with it.
- Use a smaller plate or bowl
Serve your courses on smaller plates and you’ll eat less. Sounds simple, but it works. I guess that the mind perceives a ‘plate’ as a unit of food. Make the unit smaller and you can trick yourself into eating less. British etiquette also demands that we clear everything on our plate, keep it small and you won’t feel obliged to eat more than you’d like to.
- Keep serving trays off the table
This comes down to accountability – it’s a conscious decision to get up for seconds. Keeping the trays in another room, out of sight, increases the mental ‘obstacles’ you must overcome before refilling plate and therefore reduces the likelihood of you doing so.
- Be mindful of drink choices
Christmas drinks are a minefield of hidden calories and sugars. Diet drinks aren’t really any better. Opt for squashes and cordials if you need some flavour in your beverages. Now, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how bad alcohol is in body composition terms, please at least try to limit the amount you consume over Christmas!
- Add Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a festive spice with many beneficial properties. Just 3-4 grams seems ample to lower the glycaemic response of a meal and reduce some of the strain on the body. It works fantastically well in both savoury and sweet dishes – for example, why not try a dash with roasted root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips?
- Savour and enjoy each mouthful
Hopefully, your Christmas table will be full of great food. Why would you not want to make the most of it? Taste, savour, chew. Not only will you take more pleasure from eating this way, it will also give your stomach a chance to catch up with your mouth. You’ll feel full sooner and therefore be less likely to over-consume. Moreover, digestion is hugely improved when food is chewed thoroughly. This means that you’ll be getting more of the good stuff if you resist the urge to rush your meal.
- Fit a little burst of activity either side of your meal
Muscles are more receptive to nutrients following exercise. Performing short bursts of activity – think a few sets of jumps, bodyweight squats, press ups, pull ups, or whatever you can – will help in partitioning more of your meal into the muscles and thereby reduce the potential damage it can cause.
- Don’t obsess over your diet
Yes, this was a tip from the first part of the series, but it really is that important! Worrying and feeling guilty about what you’re eating isn’t helpful. Eat and be merry!
All that’s left is for me to wish you and your families a very happy and healthy Christmas. Thank you all for your support of Maloney Performance this year. Here’s to great end of 2012 – the greatest year of sport in history!