Oh glorious silly season. We welcome you with open arms, ready to bring you in close, squeeze you tight, and hand you an apple martini.
From festive celebrations, to balmy dinners with friends and family - let's face it, at this time of year, food is life.
For a lot of us, the following weeks will likely consist of feeling high-on-life, quite often tipsy, and over-the-top, I can’t believe I ate that fourth mince pie, sick-to-the-gut full.
You know the feeling.
It doesn’t present until you’ve gone six kilometres past the no-return sign. Yet as soon as it passes, you are quick to forget and, especially at Christmas when food is wonderfully plated up for the taking, you find your way back there without trouble.
It’s perfectly ok to indulge a little during the holiday season, but at this time of year even the healthiest eaters can go overboard.
Fortunately, we’ve got a few tricks you can arm yourself with to prevent total diet demolition, and still enjoy yourself.
You may feel tempted to skip breakfast when you’ve got a four-course buffet lunch set in the calendar, but missing out on your most important meal can cause you to eat way too much come lunch.
Instead, have a healthy and filling breakfast to avoid turning up to the buffet eat-your-own-arm hungry. Some fresh fruit and muesli or a couple of boiled eggs on toast will help minimise the chance of eating everything in sight.
Drinking alcohol in the summer months can lead to life’s most severe hangovers. Guzzling a little water throughout the day will not only help you feel more full, it will keep you hydrated and lessen the chance of waking up with a tiger in your bathroom. You’re also less likely to skip the gym when you wake up hydrated and feeling fresh.
Blame your brain
Cocktail and buffet style set-ups tend to cause people to rush in to get bang-for-their-buck, but rather than waiting for the belt buckle pinch, consciously take note of what you’re putting in your mouth.
Sports Nutritionist and Precision Nutrition coach Brian St. Pierre says that ‘deeper brain physiology drives what, when, and how much we eat — along with its co-pilots of hormones, fatty acids, amino acids, glucose, and body fat. For the most part, our conscious selves just come along for the ride.’
Pause for a moment to think about what is really triggering the drive to load up on another scoop of stuffing. Is it your stomach that needs feeding, or simply your brain in a salt and sugar induced frenzy?
Don’t be fooled by looks
Is it just us, or is food looking ridiculously good these days? Beautifully styled images of food (ingeniously dubbed food porn), are everywhere now.
Ryan Andrews from Precision Nutrition warns ‘when exposed to appealing food images, we don’t just want to eat more in general. We want to eat more of particular foods — foods that typically make us fatter and unhealthier when we eat too much of them.’
If your host has done their research in the way of a food-styling Pintrest board, you may have a problem that will affect your food choices.
Which takes us to the next point.
Make good choices
When you’re shovelling turkey and potato gratin onto your plate, be sure to balance it out with some non-starchy vegetables and salad.
It also pays to plan ahead. You’re probably very aware that Nanna’s Sticky Fig Cake With Cinnamon Brandy Syrup is about to make an appearance. Take a breath, and for goodness sake, hold on!
Find things to do outside. Choose a beach BBQ over a pub gathering, head out for a stroll between courses, or rather than another sordid round of charades, dust off the old cricket stumps and challenge aunties and cousins to a round of good old-fashioned backyard cricket.
Thank your lucky stars you and your family aren’t snowed in until New Year, and make the most of this fabulous country of ours.