The run up to Christmas

I don’t know about you, but my calendar is getting very busy on the run up to Christmas.

There are so many social events at this time of year, as every group, company and organisation decides that it wants to celebrate Christmas with a party or dinner.

For anyone doing Slimming World, the sheer number of social occasions can seem quite daunting. Many people wonder if it’s even possible to say on-plan at this time of year!

Start with a plan

For me, the very worst thing I can do is throw myself into the festive season without a plan. For instance, if I turn up at the work Christmas party in a couple of weeks time and haven’t thought about it beforehand, then the chances are that I’m going to eat and drink everything around me.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

If I have a plan then I can at least mitigate some of the damage I might cause. I might not spend the whole night food optimising, but hopefully I won’t undo all of the good weight loss I’ve achieved throughout the year!

Of course the type of plan I need will depend very much on the type of gathering:

  • For drinks, I need to plan ahead about what I’m going to drink – if indeed I am going to drink. One of the best ways to stay on-plan at a drinks party is to stay sober, which can be reinforced by deciding to drive that night. Of course, not drinking can be a bit boring, and in that case I like to remind myself of the number of syns in alcohol, and plan ahead what (and how much) I want to drink.
  • For dinner out, I like to think ahead about what I will eat that night. It helps if I know where we’re going to be eating out in advance so that I can check out the menu online. Otherwise I’m likely to make some very bad decisions in the spur of the moment!
  • For a house party, I like to engage with the host in advance. Most of the time they are very amenable to looking after all their guest’s needs. The chances are they are looking after all the vegetarians and those with food allergies, so why not those of us who are trying to lose weight. I like to offer to bring free or low-syn food and drink as a contribution to the party – then I know it’s safe to have as much as I want.

Think about before and afterwards

Once I have a plan sorted for the upcoming event, I need to also think about before and afterwards:

  • Do I need to save up my syns from the proceeding week?
  • Do I need to eat before the party, to reduce the amount I eat when I’m out?
  • Do I need to take low-syn food or drink with me?
  • Do I need to stock up on healthy snacks for when I come in drunk, so that I don’t get a late-night kebab?
  • Do I need supplies for when I might be hungover the next day and not wanting to cook?

These (and countless others) are the questions I need to ask myself when I’m putting together my plan.

What if the plan falls apart?

Sometimes the best laid plans don’t quite work out. I may have planned a controlled night when I was only going to go out for three low-alcohol beers and then come home – but instead I end up staggering in the door at 3am completely hammered, and with the stains of a burger and chips down my front.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

And the temptation is to think that everything is ruined, and give up entirely on Slimming World and weight loss entirely. Or at least give up until next week. Besides, I’m going to be hungover tomorrow and craving cheesy puffs and sausage rolls – so there’s no point trying.

But I know that if I continue to eat off-plan for the rest of the week then I’ll regret it, because I’ll probably put on all the weight I lost in the last month!

So I know that I need to get back on to food optimising as soon as possible – ideally as soon as I get in the door after the party. After all, I’m now back home, and am fully back in control of what I eat and drink – so any damage from now onward is entirely my own doing! 

Have a Happy Christmas

I suppose with all things, it’s about striking a balance. I don’t want to be overly restrictive and end up having a miserable time. But similarly I don’t want to go mental and regret it. I don’t want to step on those scales in January and find I’ve put on two stone!

Anyway I hope everyone that reads this also has a Happy (and well-planned) Christmas!

Syns in Beer

I enjoy a nice pint or two every now and again, and as such I’ve compiled a list of syn values for different ales, beers and lagers:

Beer by strength

StrengthSizeSyns
Under 3.5%1 pint8
3.5 to 4%1 pint 9.5
4 to 6%1 pint 11.5
6% and over1 pint 18.5

Beer by brand

BrandSizeSyns
Amstel330ml bottle4
Boddingtons440ml can6.5
Budweiser330ml bottle7.5
Budweiser Light330ml bottle6
Bulmers CiderPint 12.5
Carling500ml can8.5
Carling C2330ml bottle4
Carling Zest330ml bottle5
Carlsberg440ml can7
Carlsberg Export440ml can9
Carlsberg Special Brew440ml can16.5
Cobra King375ml bottle11.5
Coors Light330ml bottle5.5
Corona Extra330ml bottle7
Corona Light330ml bottle4
Deuchars IPA500ml can8.5
Fosters500ml can 7.5
Greene King IPAPint 11
Grolsch440ml can9.5
GuinnessPint10
Heineken330ml bottle7
Hens Tooth 500ml bottle14.5
Hufi (Gluten Free)500ml can7
Kobbarberg Light Cider500ml can8.5
Kronenbourg 1664Pint10
Lech 500ml can10.5
Magners CiderPint12.5
Old Speckled Hen500ml bottle11.5
Pear CiderPint14
Peroni330ml bottle6
Ruddles County500ml bottle11.5
San Miguel330ml bottle8
Sol330ml bottle7.5
Stella Artois440ml can9
Stones Bitter440ml can7.5
Tiger330ml bottle5.5

Recommended drink

At the moment I’m drinking the Hüfi gluten free beer, which is only 140 calories (or 7 syns) for a 500ml can, which seems like a good syn-to-beer ratio! It tastes a lot better than a lot of the ‘lite’ beers that are low-syn.

Hufi Gluten Free Beer – 7 syns per can

This weekend’s strategy

Social butterfly!

This weekend comes heavily laden with social occasions, which in theory could potentially be my undoing.

However, I have a plan!

Last night it was leaving drinks for a woman in my office. Most of the people going looked like they were settling in for a full night of drinking, and by all accounts they did. But I decided that I would have just one drink, ignore the platters of fried food being ordered, and head home for my low-syn dinner.

Tonight it’s my company’s annual summer barbecue. There’s free drink and food on offer, and some of the younger staff in the office are already planning which nightclub they’re going to visit afterwards. I certainly won’t be going to the after-party. I’ll be lucky to make it half way through the actual barbecue.

I’m also hoping that the barbecue has a good selection of lean meat (steak and chicken would be nice – wishful thinking) and salads, which I can dig into without a problem.

Tomorrow I have dinner out with some friends. I’ve talked before about coping strategies for eating out, but I’m not always the best at following my own advice! We have a big walk in the Dublin mountains ahead of the dinner, so hopefully that can help mitigate against any bad decisions.

Throughout all these social occasions I’m not planning to drink much. I might have the odd one or two, but I’m not going to lash into the beer. It’s just not worth it. I’d much rather reserve my calories for food!

Tonight’s concert plan of action

We realised only yesterday that we had tickets for a concert in the 3Arena tonight.

Our normal plan, when going out in the city on a week-night, would be to meet somewhere in the city and have an early-bird dinner before the event. We’d also have a couple of drinks over dinner, as the price of drinks in concert venues is often inflated.

However doing this would not exactly be syn-friendly. When you add the dinner and drinks together we’d probably be way over our syn allocation for the day – and that’s before we’ve even made it the concert!

So what’s our plan of action?

Well this morning I brought both a packed lunch and dinner with me. And so, instead of going out to eat, I’m going to stay late in the office and eat dinner there.

I’ll be having a syn-free meal – actually left-overs from yesterday’s dinner – which I already know will be tasty, delicious, and healthy. And because I’ll still be in the office, I won’t be drinking alcohol with my meal – so that’ll save on some more syns.

The idea then, is to meet up with the misses half an hour before the gig for a quick drink in a local bar, and then head on to the concert.

The misses has also planned ahead for potential post-concert munchies. She’s prepared a chicken curry that’ll be waiting at home. So should we be hungry, we’ll be able to avoid the temptation to get a take-away, as there’s a tasty and healthy alternative ready to eat.

Hopefully all this will help ensure we end up having a great night – but also a healthy night!

The demon drink

When I fall off the wagon, there’s often an alcoholic drink involved!

Most of the time I avoid drinking any alcohol at all, because it’s high calorie, and those calories provide little or no nutrition. Alcohol doesn’t fill me up, so in effect they’re just empty calories. And I’d rather use my calories (or syns) for food!

Having said that, on occasion I’ve been known to indulge in a small tipple, and when I do it can either go one of two ways. I either stay “good” and stay within my syns for the day, but feel like I’ve missed out on having a really good night. Or I go “bad” and go way beyond my syns (often not even counting them), and have a good night, but end up feeling regretful the next day. So either way, I end up feeling bad.

There’s also the problem that drink often lowers my resolve to make healthy eating decisions. So in addition to all those empty calories, I will often eat all the wrong types of food – and not just when drunk on a night out – but also the next day when I’m hung over.

So it’s best for me not to drink at all. At least that’s what I tell myself – often just before I reach for the wine bottle!