How To Use Flexible Dieting To Maintain Your Goals Over The Christmas Season
Don’t throw in the towel just because it’s party time! Use flexible dieting methods to stay on track with your nutrition goals.
The problem with healthy eating at Christmas
Do we really need to discuss this? Everyone knows how tricky this time of year can be for healthy eating. It’s not just a problem for the calorie-counting get-shredded crew. Even someone who just likes to eat a decent amount of vegetables might struggle. And if you don’t like sausage meat, or dried fruit? Forget it. December is not the month for you, mate.
If you’re not careful, mid-December to New Year can be an onslaught of miniature chocolates, pastry, delicious snacks, and booze. None of which is a problem in isolation. But put it all together and it’s definitely not a healthy eating routine.
Is it possible to lose weight over Christmas?
Does Christmas have to lead to weight gain? Definitely not. We all know that the key to weight control is calorie balance, and it’s possible to eat maintenance calories over the festive period. But it’s much more difficult when most of those calories are coming from high-energy foods. And it’s even more difficult if you’re small or light (cheers for the crappy BMR!)
Our advice? Ditch any fat loss or weight loss goals over the Christmas period. Why make life miserable for yourself? But if you want to head into 2022 in a good position, aim to maintain your weight.
Flexible dieting for holiday periods
Flexible dieting methods are a great way to maintain your body weight and keep things under control without becoming the Grinch. A flexible approach to calories, portion sizes, or meal frequency can help you enjoy all your favourite festive foods but not completely overdo it.
What is flexible dieting?
Unlike calorie tracking or meal plans, flexible dieting is a versatile approach to controlling the food that goes into your mouth. As the name suggests, flexible dieting is a less rigid and more adaptable way of eating that is ideal for social situations.
There have been various “famous” methods of flexible dieting over recent years, like IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and calorie cycling. What they all boil down to is maintaining a modicum of control over your calorie intake so you don’t give up completely.
How to use flexible dieting over Christmas and New Year
Total calorie tracking (the classic flexible dieting)
The original version of flexible dieting still involves some MyFitnessPal action, which might not work for Christmas. But perhaps you could adapt it to suit your situation. You could certainly use it on the days leading up to Christmas. The idea is that you hit your total calories every day, without worrying about where the calories have come from. If you want to get a bit more bro, you could also set a protein goal. But for a few days, we don’t think it’s worth it.
Another way to do it is to look at your total calories across the week to build in some much-needed flexibility. If your maintenance calories are 2,500, that’s 17,500 for a week. If you have one or two big days (4000+), you can still pull it back by eating under 2,500 on the other days. It’s all maths.
Have you got days “off” between the partying and family visits? Maybe the 23rd, or 27th December? Use these days to tighten right back up on your healthy habits. Go for a long walk. Get 9 hours sleep. Eat vegetables. Have protein with every meal. Don’t eat any chocolate coins. Even one day of light, healthy eating will really help.
Controlling the controllable
This isn’t an eating plan as such, but it’s a useful mentality for times like Christmas. Just remember that the mince pies and trifle action doesn’t represent 100% of your time. There will be meals, or maybe entire days, where there’s nothing fancy going on. Use those days to eat simple, healthy, light food and drink water.