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By Megan Smiley, Dec 1 2015 11:43AM

Most of you will have heard of clean eating, a term and lifestyle choice that's grown in popularity over the past few years. Clean eating is pretty much exactly what it says; eating cleanly by avoiding 'dirty' foods such as anything processed, and opting for whole and fresh foods.


With Christmas, comes a month of social events, indulgence and eating and drinking scenarios out of the norm. So can you get through the festive period without becoming a 'dirty eater'?!


I'm an advocate of clean eating and I do pretty much stick to it. I rarely eat processed foods, I cook most of my meals from one ingredient items, as in from scratch: no packets or jars, and I eat whole foods and lots of fruit and veg. Having said that I'm also an advocate of the 80/20 diet, being good 80% of the time and then letting your hair down 20% of the time. It's all about balance, don't you know!


So how am I feeling about the festivities on the horizon, as there will be way more than six days (20% of the month) where there is festive fun to be had.


Well firstly I'm excited – I love Christmas. And secondly a little anxious of the inevitable slip up in my health and fitness levels. This anxiety has been amplified the last couple of years by worrying about squeezing into a made-to-measure bridesmaid dress for a wedding on New Year's Eve last year, and this year heading on a beach holiday on the 27th December. But I do think you can have a clean Christmas.


Eating clean doesn't mean no treats or tasty stuff, it just means thinking and picking a little more wisely when it comes to food. Clean eating isn't about calorie counting, it's about the quality and the balance (in terms of macronutrients e.g. the ratio of carbs, proteins and fats) of food you're putting in your body. So there can still be over indulgence but just the right type of over indulgence! Think salmon rather than salami, dates over doughnuts, roasted chestnuts over chocolates, you get the picture.


There is one thing I haven’t mentioned though, alcohol. Clean eating, unsurprisingly, encourages reducing alcohol consumption… I'll just make sure I drink it in that 20% 'letting my hair down' window and it'll all be fine!




By Megan Smiley, Dec 2 2014 09:26AM

Now December is here, your calendar is no doubt starting to get very full with Christmas parties, lunches, dinners and drinks. Which means, unless you have the willpower of a saint (which I assume is equally as endless as their patience!), you will eat less healthily and more, and of course drink substantially more over the festive period. And, to make matters that bit worse, due to all the lovely socialising, you will probably have less time to exercise and train. So you, like the majority of people, will lose a little bit of fitness and put on a little bit of weight.


So what can you do about it? Well, reading the numerous articles addressing this issue that are out at the moment, there are loads of tricks and tips of how to avoid the dreaded Christmas weight gain; from wearing your tightest fitting clothes to social gatherings (rather than your elasticated joggers like so many of us do) to encourage you from eating too much from the buffet table, to the '3 rule' that includes taking 3 steps away from any food so if you want more you have to walk back to it, or take 3 deep breaths between each mouth full, or my favourite, take 3 sips between each mouth full. Although the '3 rule' may work in making you eat less, the first one might make holding a conversation with someone rather difficult. The second might make you look like you're trying out some breathing techniques you picked up at pre-natal classes, and the latter, well would you rather be the person who ate too much at a party, or the drunk?


I believe the way to deal with the festive season is to embrace it! Accept you might put on a little bit of weight but one bad month out of 12 isn't going to have a catastrophic impact on your health. I'm not saying go for it hell for leather. Yeah try and not have a mince pie for breakfast (although I think an advent calender chocolate alongside a healthy breakfast is completely acceptable!) and don't 'write off' December. Ok you might not fit in your usual 10k run on a Wednesday evening but you can still get up 30 minutes earlier that day and do a 5k run in the morning. December is busy so fit in small amounts of exercise where and when you can; nip out at lunch for a power walk, it's better than nothing. It's about time management.


I love December. It's by far my favourite month of the year. You get to spend lots of time with all your favourite people, you get to eat lovely food, drink mulled wine, but what I love most about it is that people are happier. Strangers smile at each other, even wish each other a Merry Christmas. So please don't dread December, enjoy it!