The end of the year is often a time of mixed emotions. There's a combination of relief that another year has passed, nostalgia for some great moments that you'll never get back, and for some people, frustration that they haven't done enough throughout the year.
Not surprisingly, all these feelings combined can have a bombastic effect on your eating habits. Many of us are emotional eaters and when you add a bit of anxiety to the recipe the results can be catastrophic. And with Christmas just around the corner and New Year's fast approaching, there's more than a good case for keeping those emotions in check.
Here, I've compiled a list of things to do and avoid, in the hope that it will keep your health, fitness and eating habits on track during this busy time of year. Remember, having fun doesn't mean destroying your health!
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1. Watch your portion size
Exercising good boundaries around party foods is essential. I always tell my clients not to eat until stuffed full and to avoid dropping the towel with the motto: "Ok, it's party time, I can eat whatever and as much as I want." Your results will end up just as 'whatever'.
2. Quality control
It is important to pay attention to the quality of your food. I'm not saying to be a purist about everything being certified organic, but try to focus on lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and nuts and avoid things like pies, pastries, sweets and processed foods.
3. Monitor your petrol intake
Watch what drinks you put into your body. Soft drink, alcohol and processed juice adds nothing to your health, but lots to your waist. Stick to unprocessed juices, mineral water and fluids that are simply hydrating.
4. Chew your food
Most people forget to chew their food properly. The digestive process starts in your mouth. I know it's hard to speak to 30 relatives and friends and chew at the same time, but it's important to only swallow your food when it is liquid in your mouth.
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5. Appreciate the moment
This point is crucial! When you're surrounded by so many people, it's important to take a few seconds to look at the food in front of you and be thankful for it - not in a religious way, but out of respect. There are many studies linking conscious eating with healthy habits and this method also helps to curb overeating.
Why not meditate before a big party? A few minutes before the party, practise taking 20 deep breaths. Trust me, you will feel more centred, more relaxed and less reactive. Plus, only good actions can come from a calm headspace.
7. Don't just eat for pleasure
So your aunt brought her famous mince pies made with 5kg of sugar? The question is - what do you do when faced with such temptation? My advice here is to bring your own healthy dessert. Nowadays, healthy desserts are easy to make and in the worst case scenario, fruit doubles as a fantastic dessert.
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8. Don't over-buy
Sometimes the most food damage occurs in the days following the big parties. People often over-cater at parties, then they feel guilty throwing out all that extra food and end up slowly eating everything. My advice? Always under-buy and never ever take a doggy bag home!
9. Forgo your lie downs
Most people end up eating, then hibernating after a huge meal. I believe you should try to burn those calories straight away. If your party was at lunchtime, do a long run in the evening. If the party is in the evening, the next day go for a long run! Don't hold on to those calories.
10. Celebrate life
Smile, laugh, hug a lot of people and have fun! Remember to enjoy every second of it and try to avoid anything that doesn't add value to your life.
11. Create a list
Write down everything you'd like to achieve in 2016. I'm guessing that that on your list you'll have something to do with your health and body. So why not start right now? Great actions don't start the Monday morning after a party, they begin right now.
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12. Practise social health
There's no point doing any of the points described above if you don't respect the people around you. Think about your next door neighbour, your work colleague, your boss, your friends. When you offer yourself to others, you'll feel better and that is priceless for everyone and for yourself.
Open your wardrobe, kitchen cabinets, garage and get rid of anything you haven't used for the past 12 months. Trust me, if you haven't used it thus far, you probably won't use it again. There's always someone out there that might need it - especially if you your stuff to charity. There are many studies linking organisation levels with health.
14. Open your heart
Speak to a friend, family member or partner. Open up about things that are holding you back. There's nothing better than communicating what your needs are and to be heard.
It's time to get back to the future. Mentally run through every month of the past year and think about what you've learnt, things you could do better whether your health was a priority. If it wasn't, you have a whole year ahead to try and change that!