Per #7 – any recommendations for food diary trackers? MyFitnessPal?
This time of year is always associated with an abundance of food and drink ever present, whether it’s Thanks Giving celebrations, work christmas parties, family and friends gatherings, the big day/(s that tail on from Christmas) all topped off with New Year celebrations.
So how are you all getting on with managing your eating at this time of year?
Do you struggle to keep up good eating practices (including managing alcohol intake)? Or do you breeze through it no problem and able to dip in and out of the celebrations and control your food intake?
Here are some of my suggestions to navigate your way through the season whilst keeping up good eating practices:
1) Consistency is key! If you keep up good eating practices most of the time through out the week, the occasion where food intake differs from your usual is just a moment in time and not all of time, so should not have an over all negative impact on your day to day good eating practices and your training (and potential resulting undesired weight gain).
2) Make room for these occasions: We all know the events that are coming up where food options will be different/in abundance so consider planning it in to your diary. You may wish to reduce food intake (not miss meals just manage portions better) earlier in that day, if you are trying to control your weight and not over eat. Perhaps eat something small before you go out so you are not overly hungry by the time you arrive and then the temptation to over eat is greater. Research has shown that consuming a protein shake prior to a meal can help control for portion size and food intake in that meal.
3) Go with it. It’s just one time in the year and if you are consistent with your eating during the week this odd occasion just won’t matter.
4) Use a hunger and fullness scale: If you are someone who has tendencies to over eat, unable to control portions at events where food is abundantly available then try to think about how hungry/full you are before/during and after eating. Before/during and after you have finished eating, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being starving and 10 being so full you feel nauseas), where do you think you are at? Ideally you want to be around 3-4 before you start eating (feel hungry, ready to eat, but not starving) and finish eating around 5-6, you could perhaps eat a little more but you are satisfied but not full or stuffed. By being mindful of how you eat can help control food intake. It takes approx. 20mins for our stomachs to tell our brains we are full so when you have finished eating, wait 20mins and think 1-10 again. If you are still genuinely hungry (3-4) then have something else to eat. If not, step away, distract yourself some how, have a drink (non alcoholic).
5) Stay hydrated (not over drinking, nor drinking to excess) we can mistake feeling hungry when you are actually thirsty. Alcohol also acts as a diuretic so be mindful of drinking more water to keep up hydration if you are drinking a little more alcohol than usual.
6) Alcohol: Try to have consecutive alcohol free nights at this time of year. Not only does alcohol add empty calories and does not add any nutritional value to our diet, it also impairs recovery from training (undoing some of the hard work you are putting in). Alcohol can stay in the system for up to 72hrs (depending on how much you have drank and how often) so it is important to have consecutive alcohol free nights. There are also some great alcohol free beers on the market so think about trying to these out as a replacement or find an alternative non alcoholic drink you can have instead such as sparkling water, even coke zero will do the trick if it helps you to reduce your intake of alcohol, OR offer to drive ; ).
7) Keep a food diary/monitor intake: Research has shown that by tracking what we eat helps us to stay accountable and keep up good eating practices, it also highlights our not so good habits/intake and helps us to stay on track.
8) Enjoy your food! We are very good at taking away the pleasure and enjoyment of eating. Food should be enjoyed, it’s important for communal and social interactions to eat together and have a good time. So consider giving yourself a break and enjoy the moment, remember consistency is key!
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