Festive feasting – Christmas (and the month leading up to it) can get a little wild in the food and drink department. It’s estimated that people consume over 6000 calories on Christmas day alone and my guess is that it’s the same again on boxing day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big a deal, IF those eating habits are left at Christmas and not continued on into the New Year! However, whilst I’m all for throwing caution to the wind and counting Terry’s chocolate orange as one of my 5-a-day over the festive season, as a part-time athlete, I’m also aware of not wanting to undo any of the hard work that I’ve put in. Now, let me be clear, everyone deserves to let their hair down and enjoy some of the food they love, whether it’s labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’, whether it’s in moderation, or not… Months of hard work cannot be undone in a day or two. The key is making sure that you’re mindful about those choices so that when you’re reaching for your second helping of Christmas pud, you actually enjoy it and don’t feel riddled with guilt and negative thoughts about how you might balance it all out or ‘work it off’. That’s really not a good vibe for anyone, especially at Christmas!
Nutrition, especially around the holidays, is a minefield of a topic but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to stay on track by being mindful about what you eat and drink, just as there’s nothing wrong with eating and drinking everything in sight. It’s all a temporary state and if it makes you happy, then you do you, boo.
For those that are working hard towards the 2018 race season and are asking ‘how do you find balance when temptation is around every corner?’ We have teamed up with CLIF Bar and Nutritionist Anita Bean to give some extra tips on how to navigate festive feasting.
Mindfulness is a big one for me. Eating the food, within reason, is not really the issue, especially if you’re training hard throughout the festivities. It’s about making those choices mindfully as opposed to passively and then how you feel about those particular food choices afterward, that counts.
Anita says… “If you eat too quickly, you’ll consume a lot more than you need (or really want). Focus on eating at a leisurely pace, putting down your fork between bites, and actually talking to your family and friends that are at the table with you. You’ll end up eating less while still being completely satisfied.”
Unless you’re freelance, you’ll rarely have this much freedom to train as much as you’d like. We’re planning on attempting the Festive 500 again this year, that’s 500km to be ridden between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – all outside. The perfect start to 2018 and one that will definitely require some extra calories.
Anita says… “Planning to log some extra miles? If you’ll be exercising longer than 1 ½ – 2 hours you’ll need extra carbs. Aim to consume 30 – 60 g carbs per hour. This will help you maintain your pace and delay fatigue. Suitable options include 1 -2 CLIF SHOT Energy Gels, 40 – 80g (a handful) dried fruit, a CLIF Bar energy bar or 4 – 8 CLIF BLOK Energy Chews.”
If you’re going to a Christmas party (or your tenth), Anita says… “Don’t starve yourself beforehand. Skipping meals or not eating beforehand may lead to binging later on. Have a healthy snack with plenty of protein (such as eggs on toast or yogurt with fruit and nuts ) about an hour before you go. This will keep you fuller longer and make it easier to resist multiple mince pies.”
Personally, one of my absolute favourite tricks is to use the ‘crowding out’ method. I essentially pack my diet with as much healthy stuff as I can manage. I make sure that I fill up with good quality protein, complex carbs, all the vitamin, and mineral-rich fruits and veggies before I reach for the junk. Let’s not get it twisted, I do still reach for the sweet treats, I’m a sucker for those ‘refined’ carbs (hey, I’m human!) but I’m already pretty full so overall, I eat less of the stuff that might derail my athletic progress. Meaning that I exit Christmas feeling full, happy, refreshed and raring to go, instead of anxious, guilty and stressed.
My personal approach? I’ll be taking a break over Christmas day & boxing day, eating whatever I damn like! Then, I’ll get back to it on the 27th! Happy holidays everyone!
This post was written in collaboration with CLIF Bar and Anita Bean.