How to Survive the Festive Food Season

How to Survive the Festive Food Season

This is the festive period but let’s get one thing straight ……’s not 8 weeks long!

By Claire Fudge: The 4th Discipline

Yep that’s right folks using the “festive period” as an easy way to go totally off track is only going to make it harder to get back on it. I believe in balance. Food should be enjoyed and there is always space in our nutrition plans for some festive eating. BUT we do need to think about how we go about this. For most triathletes it is now the off season, and this means that we can give our bodies some time for rest and recovery before the hard work of race season. However, at this time of year with a likely reduction in training volume/intensity, as well as allowing our bodies to recover from the tough work of racing...

'it’s ok to gain a little ‘winter warmth’ here and there, but it is prudent to try and keep within 2-3kgs of the weight that you may typically race at'. 

Some athletes see going off track at one Christmas buffet or works night out as totally writing off the whole period as they “will gain weight anyway”. I disagree with this totally! It is just all about balancing things and being mindful of what we are eating, how we fuel ourselves around our training, and knowing when to be smart about tweaking intake in the day or few days around the festivities! 

A mince pie for example is about 250kcal and 38g carbohydrates …. Sure enjoy one of the Christmas treats around, but reconsider your balance: go for the mince pie, but have it instead of your usual afternoon snack nut bar or protein ball (normally around 180-250kcal and 17-25g carbohydrates). In fact, if you have the mince pie more than 2hrs before training, albeit a little high in fat and not 100% ideal nutritionally as a snack pre training , it would give you the minimum amount of carbohydrates needs for a 1 hr turbo session or swim for example. 

I will also flag up just how easily the tin of chocolates in the office can add up if you are not a little savvy. But again, being smart, these chocolate treats are relatively moderate release carbohydrate. So, if you have had a mid-afternoon dive into the tin- this could substitute as your pre-training snack about 2hrs before your evening sessions or; consider adjusting your intake at your next meal. Approximately 4 foil wrapped goodies is about 250kcal and 31g carbohydrates….. 

Try not to restrict food around training over Christmas. Still try to think about timing of eating before and after training, as too much restriction will only hamper performance and recovery.  

 Preparing for the day ahead is super important if you are due to go out in the evening. Make sure you balance the day with regular meal; turning up super hungry to a festive buffet or meal, having trained means you will be more likely to overeat. Turn up just ready to eat but not having over restricted during the day. If there are snacks wafting around, go for nuts or protein filled canapes, add a good portion of protein to your plate along with colourful veg; helping with satiety! 

Egg nog ……. Well this would of course be my drink of choice with the high iron and protein content !!! When consuming alcoholic drinks try to reduce consumption of high sugar options and try a spirit with a low-calorie mixer. If you have been training, make sure to start rehydrating as soon as possible afterwards; remember you need to rehydrate with 150% of what you have lost in training i.e loosing 1kg of sweat means rehydration with 1500ml of fluids. Remember too that heavy drinking of alcohol will affect recovery and adaptation. 

Most importantly, you don’t need to earn eating over the festive period and you don’t need to miss out on what you fancy!

But the festive period is actually a couple of weeks so think ahead, prepare and be mindful. And most importantly enjoy it and have a Merry Christmas! 


Blog generously written by Claire Fudge Bsc Rd, Pg.Cert , Adv. Dip 

An experienced clinical dietitian, competitive endurance triathlete, high performance nutritionist and a foodie!! Claire has spent more than 14 years practicing as a clinical dietitian and has a wealth of experience in the medical profession and nutrition industry.

Instagram:  @the4thdiscipline


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