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Surviving the Silly Season

Kate Freeman

Around this time of the year my clients start asking me a certain question: “How do I get through the silly season?”

Cue the concerned look on their face as they think about navigating the chocolate, dessert, alcohol, canapés and fancy food-filled festivities that await them over the next few weeks.

As you head into ‘party season’, with food and alcohol in abundance, it’s really important that you have a sound strategy to help you stay on track but still engage and participate in what I think is the greatest time of the year.

Here are my top tips for eating well in the silly season.

Get the meals that you can control, right.

You eat approximately three meals per day. That’s 21 meals per week. During the season leading up to Christmas you may have four or more events, parties, or meals per week that are out of your control. If you do the maths, there are still 17 meals in that week that you can control. There’s really no need for these parties to throw you off track at all.

Keep choosing whole, fresh, portion-controlled food at the meals that you can control. If you’re still eating well for the majority of the time, you’ll do just fine. I say to my clients almost every day: “Consistency is more important than perfection.”

Stop the ‘all or nothing’ mindset with food.

This tip builds on the first one. If deviating from your healthy eating habits leads you to throwing in the towel and eating poorly for a few days or weeks, then you’re going to run into trouble. Don’t let a handful of social events completely derail you from your regular healthy habits. One night of drinking doesn’t need to turn into three nights and eating one Tim Tam doesn’t need to turn into eating a whole packet.

If you go out to dinner and eat more than you planned, or eat something that you really didn’t want to, that’s ok. Own your decision, don’t feel guilty about it and move on. There is no reason for you to throw in the towel and stop your new healthy habits altogether. You can do this. Get straight back on track. Remember it’s consistency we’re aiming for, not perfection.

Pre-decide your food choices before you get to the party. 

There’s something really powerful about fore-thought and making strong decisions. If you rock up to a party thinking “I’ll just do my best to eat well”, it’s guaranteed that your favourite canapés, nibbles or deserts will call your name. Eating this way is geared towards overconsumption because we easily lose track of how much we’ve eaten. We can also become mindless and eat food just ‘because it’s there.’

The best way to head into a party, dinner out or social event is to pre-decide a few things:

How much are you going to drink?

Rather than get caught up in the moment, decide you’ll have one or two drinks and stop after that.

What food are you going to order?

Can you look up the menu online and pre-decide what dish you’re going to choose and make it a healthy choice? You might choice to drink mineral water instead of soft drink or you might decide that you’ll eat the mains, but say ‘no thank you’ to dessert. Whatever you choose, make it realistic and aligned with your goals. Then go and enjoy yourself within the boundaries that you set.

BYO vegetables to the pot luck dinners. 

Salad with fresh summer vegetables, top view

My family loves putting on pot luck dinners—the ones where everyone brings a dish and you try to put as many of the different dishes on your plate that you can. It’s usually a carb fest in the Freeman extended family with pasta, potato bake, breads, rice dishes and more. Now, I believe that carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet but not a whole plate full, that’s a little too much.

I handle these situations by ‘bringing a salad’. That way when I’m serving up my plate, I fill half of it with nutritious, low energy, filling vegetables and then just enjoy smaller portions of my favourite dishes on the other side of my plate.

You could also bring sautéed vegetables (think green beans, broccoli & snow peas) in garlic and olive oil. Give them a sprinkle of flaked almonds—yum! Maybe try some steamed Asian greens with a slight drizzle of soy sauce and minced ginger—so delicious!

Planning and organisation are your friend.

Staying organised is vital during the silly season. Keep your kitchen stocked with fresh, whole foods; your freezer stocked with lean meats, poultry and seafood; and consider cooking up some bulk meals for those times when you need something quick.

I love having a meal planner on my fridge with all my meals planned out for the week. I get my groceries sorted over the weekend and subsequently my week runs so much smoother. When I wake up in the morning, school and work lunches are sorted. When I get home from work at the end of the day my meal planner tells me what to do for dinner. The ingredients are there waiting for me in the fridge.

Going back to tip number one, it’s easier to get the meals you can control, right, when you’ve planned to do so. Writing a meal plan is all about setting yourself up for success!

My parting advice…

Whatever happens this Christmas season, don’t stress. Use it as an opportunity to find a healthy balance. If you used to overeat for weeks on end, aim to moderate your food choices a little better this time round. Christmas is going to come around once a year for the rest of your life, so you may as well learn how to manage it and enjoy it at the same time.

Need help?

The Healthy Eating Hub has 40% off consultations in December and January. Click here for more info.


Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author

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