Enjoy a Guilt Free Foodie Holiday. Yes, You!

At this time of year I start to see people freaking out about how much weight they ‘know’ they will put on over the next few weeks and how awful they are going to feel over the next few days and weeks. Let’s put the brakes on this shall we? This time of year is magical and needless negativity does not belong.

Do you you remember when you were younger, when, no matter what you ate or drank at night, no matter how late you stayed up or how hard you partied it made absolutely no difference to your waist line or your head the next morning? Those were the days (sighs wistfully).

If you know me, have read my website or blog posts you will know I’m all about the 80/20 rule – if you eat well, exercise and look after your body and mind, the other 20% is yours for the taking. This all-important 20% is your wiggle room, it’s the time when you let go and live a little, to eat and drink, free of guilt and remorse, just like you did when you were a (a lot) younger.

You don’t have to ‘deserve’ the food and drink you consume, this implies you earned it. We don’t earn our ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, in fact we don’t earn any food. We eat food because we are hungry, for enjoyment and sometimes out of habit.

But what happens when your 80/20 turns into 60/40, 50/50 or it flips on its head and is now 20/80?

Your ‘healthy eating’ is now well and truly ‘eating anything’ and you can’t seem to stop yourself, all self control is out of the window and you start to feel guilty.

Words of ‘I won’t drink tonight, or I’ll only eat protein tonight- no carbs, or scr*w this, I’ve had 4 cookies so another 3 won’t make a difference, (insert negative self-talk here) can be heard around the globe, both out loud and inside heads.

STOP! And please don’t worry, please don’t ruin the time you are spending with your friends and family.

I know you probably don’t drink in the morning or eat pie and lots of chocolate on a regular day, but this isn’t a regular day! Don’t deny yourself girl, eat the pie and drink the Mimosa!

Still not convinced?

Tell me, what are you worried about and why are you worried about it?

What is the worst that can happen? I want you to answer this in your head then write it down, along with why the worst that can happen isn’t actually that bad.

It’s not the end of the world, is it? Allow me to put it into perspective.

Yes, you may feel bloated, you may put on a few pounds, you may feel sluggish, but all of this is reversible.

Did you know a few days of splurging on the eggnog and pie will make you feel bloated rather than have added to your waistline?

When we consume more carbohydrates than normal, we store them for easily available energy, for the body to store carbohydrates it must hold onto water. As we go back to regular eating, we use the glycogen stores and lose the bloat.

You have to do a lot of over eating to gain a few pounds of fat, in fact, you have to over eat 3,500 calories to gain one pound of gained body fat, this is 3,500 calories which not were not used for energy and therefore stored.

To burn off the pound of fat over a one-week period we need to have a 500 calorie deficit each day, exercise 500 calories worth of movement or both.*

How to help yourself – tried and tested by me.

Move your body

I always feel better about feeding my face after I have moved my body.

I know this can be hard when staying with other people, you don’t feel you can sneak away for half an hour but YOU CAN, they really don’t mind if you aren’t sitting in your PJ’s at the table drinking coffee with them. Get up and get out there!

Can’t get out of the house? Get your phone out and follow my Holiday Workouts on YouTube, the no equipment one can be done in 15 minutes! No excuses.

Get a dance party going! Have you ever been to a party and had aching thighs the next day? Have a competition with the kids (young and old) to see who can hold the longest plank, wall sit or most pushups. Get creative.

People staying with you? Take them out for a powerwalk, fresh air can never be underrated.

Be mindful of how you eat

Conscious versus unconscious eating:

Slow down when you are eating, particularly when standing at the buffet table absentmindedly eating another cracker with cheese. Take a split second to ask yourself if you really want to eat the food. If the answer is yes, then eat away and enjoy, you made the decision to eat it so be happy. This is conscious eating.

Unconscious eating is the nibbling we do when we aren’t thinking about it, you know the type. It’s the chips and salsa, the handful of nuts as you walk past the bowl and the chunks of chocolate you break off the bar each time you go to the fridge; you don’t really want it, but it’s there, so you eat it anyway.

Move away from the buffet table it if you can’t control your hands reaching for the chips and dips. Take your conversation to another part of the room, or turn your back to the food. If you aren’t near the table you would need to pause your conversation and consciously move away to get food, this turns your habitual eating into conscious eating.

Be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations. Negative self-talk does no one any good, it is wasted energy and does not belong in our lives. Period. Enjoy the moments and make the memories, you’ll be so glad you did.

I wish you the happiest of Holiday Seasons, the merriest of Christmas’ and an outstanding New Year. I look forward to continuing our journey together in 2020.

Zoë x

*These numbers are a general guideline and may not be applicable to you.

Winter cocktail

Drink Up! (or not)

I know, it’s like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

You eat healthily, exercise regularly and live the good life (perhaps too much?!) but those darn glasses of wine tip your calorie consumption into overload.

What can you do?

Festive drinks can range from between 60 for a shot of vodka to over 500 calories for a creamy or sugary cocktail, so if you’re debating between a glass of wine or a mojito, knowing the calorie content of both drinks can help you avoid added calories and a hangover-inducing sugar crash.

The average mojito or gin and tonic for example contains around 200 -220 calories, not bad hey?! Except that the measurements quoted on most websites are the measures used in a bars and if you are anything like me, you always give yourself a larger pour than you would receive in a bar.

A 1.5-ounce measure of spirit contains 60-100 calories, however the mixers can really bump up the calorie count.

Pre-made daiquiri and margarita blends can contain 160 calories in a 2-ounce serving size, but most times we’re sipping these in a 12- or 16-ounce glasses — meaning you’re looking at 320 calorie drink, and that’s not including the actual alcohol – gulp.

All is not lost, there are some modifications you can make this holiday season.

Switch to low calorie tonic/soda for the night, I don’t recommend this with a ‘good’ alcohol, it will change the taste of your drink, and diet sodas aren’t good for you so consider adding soda water to your drink instead, vodka soda or tequila soda contains the least amount of calories per ounce, the good thing is, you can also make them taller by adding more soda which means they last longer and you consume fewer calories.

You can also add flavorings in the way of pomegranate, cucumber, berries etc. or perhaps a few drops of bitters or flavored syrup.

At the end of the day, alcohol contains calories, sorry, I wish it didn’t too, but it does so let’s make a plan to eat, drink and perhaps be merry knowing that we have the wiggle room in the bank 😉


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About Zoë Dodds

Life, Health, and Fitness Coach

Zoë has a passion for helping and empowering women to the best version of themselves.

With 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry, she delivers inspiration and wealth of knowledge to her clients, some of which she shares in her blog and weekly newsletters.

Originally from England, Zoë has lived in Seattle for 9 years with her husband, two grown-up children and a Labrador called Jordi.

Click here to read more.