PART 1 – Tips & Tricks for Holiday Eating
In the very famous words of Billy Mack (hey – I’m a huge ‘Love Actually fan, alright!?);
I feel it in my fingers,
I feel it in my toes,
Christmas is all around me,
and so the feeling grows!
Yep – it’s that time of year again. The jolly fat man in red will be making a very welcome visit in the not too distant future, bringing with him an assortment of festivities, fun-filled cheer & of course, arguably the most enjoyable part of any Christmas; delicious, scrumptious, calorie-filled treats, sweets & cakes!
Christmas day is a highlight of the year for most, offering an opportunity to share some precious time with friends & family, get in some much needed R & R & more often than not, overindulge in mince pies (or whatever your particular ‘poison’ may be).
But…You’ve worked so hard all year building upon & improving the physique that you care so much about. You’ve stuck to your guns, hit your macros, trained the house down & torched that stubborn belly fat to within an inch of its life. Is it really possible to enjoy a few Yorkshire puddings & continue on your very merry fat burning ways?
Christmas is a time for celebration & festivities, but that doesn’t mean your efforts have to go to waste. Compiled below are several suggestions as to how you might implement a more sustainable approach to your festive eating & keep that fat-loss furnace firing.
Eat Flexibly & Mindfully
You’ve been doing this all year – hitting your macros, eating without restriction & enjoying your food. The festive period will no doubt offer some additional temptations, but nothing more than you’ve been confronted with already. There’s no reason to pull out MyFitnessPal at every opportunity, but it’s important to understand in the same way you’ve made decisions regarding the opportunity cost of the foods you eat, the same rules should apply. If you’re going to load up on roast potatoes & stuffing, maybe it should be at the expense of an enormous dessert. Similarly, if you’re going to challenge your cousin to an eggnog drinking contest, maybe you should hit the salad bar after serving yourself some turkey.
The wise man that is Mike Samuels once said;
Your calorie allowance is like a budget…you need to spend it wisely.
Enjoy the Occasion
Remember that the festive period is a time to celebrate, spend time with friends & family & to recharge the batteries. Don’t forget that. Sure, it’s more than ok to indulge a little & treat yourself to something you might not typically, but refrain from using the festive season as an excuse to over-indulge. Allow the Christmas pudding & the pavlova to simply add to the occasion, rather than dictate how much enjoyment you ultimately take from the experience.
Don’t Eat for the Sake of it
If the average Christmas day spread is anything to go by, chances are there’s going to be more than enough food on offer throughout the festive season. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a reason to eat. In conjunction with the point above, eat to satisfy your hunger & enhance your Christmas cheer/ experience & move on. Limiting your snacking, listening to your body & giving it a chance to actually feel hungry before you eat will go a long way to counteracting any potential overeating. Try to savour any indulgences & eat them slowly & mindfully so as not to go overboard.”
Limit Your Choice
We’re all susceptible to sensory-specific satiety, a phenomenon that explains why we get bored with eating just one type of food. So ultimately, being presented with a variety of tempting delicacies is more than likely going to encourage us to keep eating long after we’ve had enough. Choose your appropriate poisons & enjoy only the foods you really love.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, this essentially involves reducing the period of time during the day that you can eat. This is a fantastic concept to assist with calorie & portion control, as you’re essentially eating your day’s intake within a smaller time frame, meaning you’re going to be eating bigger meals & feeling FULL. Fasting up until lunch time might just give you that added flexibility you need to be able to take down that double serving of honey glazed ham.
You’ve trained like a beast all year – there’s no reason to change that during the festive season. Lift on!
Here’s a variable. One that can essentially be tailored to the size of the festive season you plan on having. There’s nothing healthy about exercising as punishment, but there’s also no harm in a few additional cardio-based sessions here & there to ensure you’re covering all of your bases & burning enough calories to cover some of those Christmas choccies. As a general recommendation, high intensity interval training is probably going to be the wiser option; it’s time efficient, keeps the body guessing & is seriously beneficial when it comes to long-tem fat loss, allowing for minimal metabolic adaptation over time. 7-10 x 15-30 second intervals with anywhere from 60-120 seconds recovery should have you singing carols like a champ.
Simple right? You’ve got this covered.
Keep reading to learn how to stick to your diet and not lose your gains when eating out, going for drinks, or dining at friends’.
PART 2 – How to Eat Out on a Flexible Diet
You’re out at a restaurant.
What camp do you fall in? The Loser with the weighing scale, taking each individual piece of broccoli off their plate to get the exact right amount, and asking the waiter how your steak will be cooked, before throwing a hissy fit when your dressing isn’t served on the side?
Or… You become Jimmy “Eat ALL THE FOOD” Jones.
You figure that you’re out, can’t track accurately, so you may as well go to town and binge until your stomach groans, and your belt buckle is bursting.
Let Me Share Something With You …..
I’ve been at both these ends of the spectrum, and you know what?
They both SUCK. With the first scenario, all I could ever do when eating out was gaze forlornly at all the delicious food all my friends and family were eating, as I picked at a chicken salad (no dressing obviously) or felt incredibly guilty for not knowing exactly how much rice I was eating. Worse still, I’d often turn down invitations out, or make up excuses as to why I couldn’t grab a takeaway or a slice of pizza, or head out to somewhere that didn’t serve lean steaks and green veggies. And the other extreme? I would binge eat. I’d eat clean for 6 and a half days of the week, then be faced with the prospect of an all-you-can-eat buffet, or bottomless froyo, and so I’d eat until I’d be physically in pain.
Hardly a picture of health and happiness, is it?
There is Another Way
The lost concept of flexible dieting is flexibility. People get way too wrapped up in hitting specific macros, and meeting their targets exactly, that they become as obsessive as clean eaters. This is NOT flexible dieting. This is being a self-righteous arse, while your friends and family have fun and live their lives.
Get your head round the following tips, and you’ll learn how to go out to eat, enjoy social occasions, stay lean and strong, and not go into a blind panic, wondering how the hell you’ll hit your macros whenever your partner suggests going for dinner.
Learn to Guesstimate
How long have you been counting macros for? If it’s more than a month or two, you’re probably better at guesstimating than you think.
Here’s the deal – you don’t need to be 100% accurate, 100% of the time. I’d bet if you went a whole day without tracking, and just guessed your macros, you’d probably end the day no more than 10% away from what you were “supposed” to eat. That might be 10% under, it might be 10% over – either way, it balances out in the end. Perfection is over-rated. If in doubt, pick a simple dish, such as a steak with a baked potato or sweet potato fries, maybe a burger, or even a stir fry with some noodles or rice.
Most restaurants now show macro breakdowns (or at least calories) on their menus, and if not there, then they’ll be on the website. This might not be perfect, but it’s good enough.
And if you’re going to an independent place, just refer to tip #1.
Eat According to Goals
What’s your goal right now?
Are you in the last few weeks of contest prep, and having to grind a little to shift that last bit of fat? Then perhaps you should just choose a really simple dish, look for something low-calorie, and stick with lean meat and veggies. If not? Then doing this is plain ridiculous. Even competitive bodybuilders only need to do this 5 or 10% of the time. The vast majority of folk will never, ever need to be this restrictive. If you’re already pretty damn lean, and looking to get in shape for your holiday, or a photo shoot, then just having some restraint is ample.
And for all you bulkers out there – your meal out could be a “free meal” where you don’t track but just ……..
I’m going to steal this one from Mr Cheadle –
If you’re going to load up on roast potatoes & stuffing, maybe it should be at the expense of an enormous dessert. Similarly, if you’re going to challenge your cousin to an eggnog drinking contest, maybe you should hit the salad bar after serving yourself some turkey.
This was in relation to festive eating, but the same goes for eating out in general. If you decide that you really want the ultimate brownie and waffle sundae with extra cream for dessert, then roast chicken with some plain rice and veggies might be a smarter choice for your main. Or, if you want your local burger restaurant’s signature “Meat-inator” burger with extra cheese, guac and pulled pork, perhaps it’d be wise to stick with water or diet Coke for your beverage of choice, rather than slamming down strawberry shakes and beers.
Decide What You Want
This is a big one. It’s a good idea to have an idea in your head of what you fancy eating before you go out. Once you’re at a restaurant, it’s easy to be swayed by the array of food on offer, and what your company are ordering. And this inevitably ends in a huge calorie-fest. Instead, have a think about what you’d genuinely enjoy eating a few hours before heading out, and order that. This way, you make a sensible, informed choice ahead of time.
This should really be rule number one, but just try to chill out and enjoy yourself. Eating out won’t be any fun for you, or whoever you’re with, if you’re making crazy requests, or feeling constantly stressed. Realise that even if you do go a little over your calories, don’t hit your protein, or end up with a bit of a carb overload, it’s only one meal.
A fat person wouldn’t get ripped eating one salad …… Do you really believe you’ll lose your abs and become a wobbly ball of mush by having one non-tracked meal? Eat slowly, make conversation (this will also make you feel fuller and be mindful of what you’re eating) and forget about macronutrient perfection for one night. Otherwise, you’ll be just as miserable as those paleo guys and girls!
About the Authors
Nick Cheadle runs his own PT & online coaching business ‘Nick Cheadle Fitness’.
He’s based in Sydney, Australia & loves to help people learn how to chase the physique of their dreams without having to restrict themselves from the food they love. Who doesn’t want to have their cake & eat it too!?
To receive free content from Nick, make sure to sign up for his newsletter at nickcheadlefitness.com/joinus
You can also check out his website here – nickcheadlefitness.com
His Facebook page is – www.facebook.com/nickcheadlefitness
His Instagram profile is – instagram.com/nickcheadlefitness
Mike Samuels runs Healthy Living Heavy Lifting
He’s based in the UK, and loves helping people get ripped while eating pizza and drinking beer. He’s also a fan of lifting heavy things up, and putting them down again.
To get free daily content from Mike, sign up to his newsletter at https://mike-samuels.leadpages.net/5-reasons/
You can also browse his site here – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/
And FB page here – https://www.facebook.com/HealthyLivingHeavyLifting
Mike also has a step-by-step how-to guide on getting the body of your dreams using flexible dieting – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/flexible-fat-loss/
And a special holiday edition to help you shed pounds while enjoying festive treats to your heart’s desire – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/feast/