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!

Mixing it up

I’ve had the same meal for lunch and dinner for the last two days, and I’m getting a bit sick of it!

I like a chicken salad as much as the next person – actually probably more than the next person. And a large chicken and some salad things from the supermarket certainly goes a long way, and is good value for money. But it can also get a bit boring after a while.

It’s the trap that a lot of people fall into when doing Slimming World – having the same meals again and again. We find a set of recipes that work for us, and then we cook them again and again on an endless loop. And before you know it, you’re bored of everything, and desperate to have something different, which can lead to some off-plan moments!

Our weekly cooking schedule usually contains some or all of the following: a chicken in the slow cooker, a joint of ham in the slow cooker, a stir-fry, a batch-cooked curry or chilli, baked fish and chips, or a spaghetti bolognese. And although I enjoy all of these, I sometimes hanker after something a bit different.

Looking for inspiration

One thing we tried to do a while back, but has since fallen by the wayside, is to introduce a new recipe each week. The Slimming World magazines seem to be a good source of inspiration for new recipes, as do the books you can buy in class. Or a quick search of the internet will often come up with something interesting.

If you follow other SW members on Instagram or Snapchat you can often find inspiration for alternate meal suggestions – as there are loads of people that photograph their meals and share them online.

A bit of planning

I’m also an advocate of planning the week’s meals. I know that if I just left it to the day to decide what I’d like for dinner, I’d not have the right ingredients and I’d end up eating the same things all the time. But by pre-planning (having checked the recipes to follow) we can then buy the correct groceries in our weekly shop, and have everything in ready to go. And it removes the dilemma of working out what to cook each day.