As I write this, I am enjoying a succulent scone I pilfered from the company staff-room after yet another Christmas potluck. It wasn’t alone. A shortbread cookie and a banana bread muffin also followed me home. Suddenly I realized that it was only the beginning of the month. At this rate the kids won’t have to wait up for Santa on Christmas Eve. The fat bastard is suddenly going be hanging around the house and strangely looking a lot like Dad.
If you’re like me, the holidays are a nutritional nightmare. And while I appreciate how my fifteen year old son can scarf back a whole pizza and then look in the fridge for a “snack”, those of us over 40 just can’t get away with those shenanigans anymore. Our bodies don’t burn the sludge off like it used to so when the holidays come around, many of us are screwed.
Unless you have a plan.
True Love Waits
Ok, we both know you’re a powder keg ready to blow. Hold tight there Sparky, help is on the way.
If you can muster the self-control, save your planned binge for the big day. Whether Hanukkah or Christmas, there is usually one or two main family get-togethers. If you’ve been a good boy or girl the rest of the time, allow yourself the indulgence of a few extra desserts for the day. One day isn’t going to throw you off the rails, so go easy on yourself. Life after all is about celebrating with those you love.
Know your limits however. A meal where one eats a little too much is fine on rare occasions. A meal where you stuff yourself to the gills and wash it down with shots of discount Canadian whisky and craft beer is probably not going to end well in terms of family relationships. While a little festive cheer is within the bounds of acceptability for some, try to avoid taking a page from my Uncle Ivor’s playbook if you want to see another Christmas.
Know Your Vice
Everyone has that thing that reels them in like they were a mentally retarded Northern Pike. For some it’s sweets. Cakes, pies and cookies oh my…it’s quite possibly the worst time of year. For me it’s the crunchy savory of salty goodness that unfortunately is often deep fried. Potato chips for example, are my kryptonite. So much so that they are banished from my house for all time. But it doesn’t matter during this time of year…the things just find a way in.
Identifying your weakest link at least gives you the ability to identify the enemy during the season and act accordingly to avoid them. From here we can formulate a plan of attack because dang it, this is war. First order of mental preparation is NOT telling yourself you deserve it. That’s just giving the brain the ultimate excuse to cut loose. The only thing we deserve is death and eternal judgement from a righteous God. Instead tell yourself you will merely partake for the purpose of celebration. And if you partake, be sure to limit yourself to a predetermined reasonable amount. One shortbread cookie is ok. Walking away with the plate is a cry for help.
Pre-Fill the Tank
They say you need to fight fire with fire. Or as my Uncle Ivor used to say, you cure a hangover with more booze.
So to fight eating too much, we need to eat too much…of the good stuff. Before doing your best Michael Phelps impression and diving onto the dessert table, be sure to load up on as much healthy options as possible. The trick is to limit the amount of space left for sinful gluttony.
This is a task I simply must do because my mother-in-law makes Christmas baking so good you’d start a land war in Asia over it. My plan is simple, load up on turkey…lots of turkey. It’s high protein, fills the belly and makes it so I can shove back only 3 pieces of cake. Four tops. Ok, maybe I can have just one more…
Bring Something You Can Eat
The ultimate way to insure success at a family gathering is to bring your own dish that you both like and know is a healthy substitute. If everyone is bringing cookies and cakes, consider a snack plate of olives or meats. Aim for low-carb as your goal. Even better, if you can bring cuts of wild game dispatched by your own rifle, you can thrill your guests with embellished stories of the hunt. Just don’t do this if the kids are watching Bambi.
Just be sure not to go overboard, or as they say, know your audience. Christmas probably isn’t the time to bring a dressingless raw kale salad to the festivities. A dish like that when surrounded by sweet potato pie is going to have all the attractiveness of a week old tuna sandwich left on a radiator. This is your time to be creative and come up with some healthy…yet delicious ideas. A little research on your part will go a long way.
Despite our best efforts, most of us will indulge much more frequently during the holiday season. If this is the case then be sure not to neglect your fitness regimen. If possible, try and fit a smaller, second workout into your day. It may not burn off all the chips you stuffed down your pie-hole, but it will at least keep things relatively static until New Years.
Naturally, post-holidays are when gym memberships go through the roof. Guilt is a powerful weapon and used correctly, can do a fair amount of good in a wise person. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with devoting time to upping the game as it might even lead to a long-term fitness plan. A few nutritional stumbling blocks are no reason to throw in the towel.