Grit Doctor: Put down the mince pie
Before you get another plate of Christmas excess ... are you actually hungry?
While supermarket mince pies are often full of rubbish, it would be rude not to enjoy one or two made by a friendly neighbour. Photograph: Thinkstock
Q Have you any dieting tips on how to deal with all the Christmas excess? How do I keep the weight off because I love a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine? At the school Christmas fair, I had three mince pies without batting an eyelid and it’s not even Christmas Eve yet. I know you say to keep to your running, but how do you deal with the eating because even if you run the same amount, if you are eating more, you’ll gain weight? Irene
A I’m no different in that at Christmas I definitely overindulge too. A mince pie may not be my sin of choice, but I find it hard to resist a glass of bubbly and a mouth full of nuts.
However, with my sister’s wedding in January and my off-the-shoulder-barely-there bridesmaid’s dress hanging in my wardrobe as sobering reminder, I may have to adopt a slightly stricter regime than usual this time around.
That being said, it is a bit rude to refuse a neighbour’s homemade mince pie. Shop-bought mince pies, though, are a different story. The vast majority of supermarket varieties are full of rubbish and riddled with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is the worst kind of sugar.
Be polite and refuse on the grounds of having just eaten three. It is quite unnecessary to point out the perils of HFCS, not to mention terribly bad manners, which are most unfestive.
I will be running most days, and now that I have my wrist weights “grittifying” those runs, I can worry less about all those nuts, cheeses and glasses of mulled wine adding more bingo to my wings.
Crucially, throughout the festive season, I will make sure I remain in touch with my hunger and appetite. I will go to that cocktail party ravenously hungry and consider the canapes to be my dinner and not merely a starter. We all know that 20 or 30 little nibbles on a dinner plate would fill the whole thing, so that’s a meal, not a little nibble.
Keeping in touch with my appetite and hunger cues means eating mindfully. It is Christmas, but food is still for fuel, even when it is to be richly and deservedly enjoyed. There are many other ways to celebrate that don’t involve shoving something down our gobs – a relaxing family game of charades or Trivial Pursuit anyone?
Whilst emotional eating may be a minefield for some of us, a good starting place is to establish that you are actually hungry (tummy rumbling, etc). Ask yourself: is it meal time or am I standing at the fridge door after a few drinks at midnight in a chocolate-induced coma?
Know your Christmas poison and manage its consumption. Try not to buy it. A week’s worth of damage is quickly offset by a week’s worth of abstinence; a month’s worth is far harder to shift.
You knew this was coming, but never is it more key to stick to your exercise routine than over Christmas. Not only is it time spent away from buying, making and eating all the pies, but it is also helping you to burn off those you have devoured. Exercise also keeps your mood and appetite regular and stress levels down at the time we need it the most.
The Grit Doctor says: Jingle all the way.
Ruth Field is author of Run Fat B!tch Run, Get Your Sh!t Together and Cut the Crap