Tag Archives: Fat burning

Love your holiday and still watch your weight!

So, its holiday time again. I love summer holidays, but they can be a mare when it comes to managing my weight. And spending hours in shorts and a swimsuit isn’t good for my mood if I feel I’m bigger than I want to be. But at the same time, a holiday is not a holiday if I cant enjoy myself and food and drink is such a massive part of that. Some people even lose weight on holiday! So here are my top tips for having a great holiday and still watching your weight.


1. Got a smart phone, get an app!
My last holiday was in Portugal. So before I went I bought a translation app that could work without WiFi or 3G. I put in a load of phrases to be translated into Portuguese to help me ask for my food how I want it. So phrases like ‘Please cook in as little oil as possible’ or ‘Please do not put cheese on top’ made it really easy to order brilliant food.

2. I’ll manage the day so I can enjoy the evening….
Having lovely meals out and a fair few glasses of red wines is all part of a holiday for me. So I manage my breakfasts and lunches then I don’t worry about the evening. I took some sugar free muesli with me which I had with fruit for breakfast. I booked self catering so I could make my own lunch. When I’m not self catering I’ll buy salad stuff each day. Drink lots of water during the day and you’ll be set up nicely to enjoy your evening out.

3. Don’t compare….
Bad habit on holiday No 1. Looking at other women and thinking how much slimmer they are then me. The reality is always that some are, some aren’t. And so what?

What’s important is that we all feel good about ourselves and learn to love ourselves as we are. Remember no one else can be you. So what if they are a different size or shape?

4. When eating out still make sensible choices….
Some things are better to chose when eating out and managing your weight. Click here for a guide.

I’m a real pudding girl and holidays are no exception. In Portugal often I’d go to the ice cream stall and choose some fresh fruit covered in dark chocolate. Lovely. And I used the little freezer compartment in the fridge in our room to freeze some fruit to eat in the afternoons rather than ice-lollies. And of course I kept a nice stocked fruit bowl in our room.

 

Even with the most rubbish equipment you can still cook your own

5. Beware the all you can eat buffet….
The truth is that going all-inclusive or to all you can eat buffets everyday on holiday is going to make it really hard to manage your weight. So if you are all inclusive or going to all you can eat buffets, still try to watch what you eat and still bring your own more healthy alternatives. Use a small plate, only put small amounts on your plate at a time, take a break between going back to fill up your plate, and drink lots of water. Don’t eat just because the food is there. 

 

6. Stay active….
Even if you are going for a total chill-out holiday by the pool, its still possible to keep up some activity. Swim as much as you can and walk everywhere rather than getting lifts or a bus; in the sun its lovely and there’s nothing nicer than walking home in the sunset after a great meal and evening out.

If you can and its your kind of thing, go dancing to dance off your evening meal. And if your on holiday with the right person then remember that getting active in the bedroom uses up lots of calories; even more when its hot!!

7. Be grateful for all you eat and drink…
I believe that how we feel about things effects how our body responds. I’m convinced my body deals with food better when I feel good & not worried about what I’ve eaten. So be grateful for everything you eat or drink and for your brilliant holiday. Before you eat think about how good the food you’ll have is for you. Be determined to enjoy everything you eat and drink and to have a brilliant holiday.

x

The best ways to enjoy the Easter holiday and still keep weight off

Holidays and big occasions can always present challenges when you are watching your weight. And Easter can be particularly difficult if you have any chocoholic tendencies! So what’s the best way to have a fab Easter but not pile on the pounds?

1. If you want to eat chocolate eat the right kind! Go as dark as you can!!
Many nutritionists credit dark chocolate (not milk, sweetened or white, but dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa, preferably 80% or 90% cocoa with being a ‘fat burning food’. (Fat burning foods are foods which cause a reaction in your body which means that your body uses many of the calories in the food in processing it.) But it won’t surprise you to hear that these fat burning properties are only in moderation and so you do have to watch how much you eat. However chocolate is also a low GI food, with much documented research into the beneficial effects on health and mental health, not least as a source of iron. Research seems to suggest that a small amount of dark chocolate cdoes not cause the sugar spikes caused by other chocolate; it may even help to regulate insulin and help to keep you feeling full for longer when eaten after a meal. Indeed, scientists have found that eating a couple of squares of dark chocolate at a snack can mean you eat 18% less calories at your next meal.

So when you buy your egg or chocolate bar, check the cocoa content and make sure you go for at least 70%; more if you can. Lindor even do a 99% bar.

But remember, in moderation is the key. I’ve tested it out and even for me who can eat chocolate for ever couldn’t eat too much of really dark chocolate as its so rich. So maybe moderation is easier than you think!

2. If you are eating milk or white chocolate, go easy….
I know, though, that there are load of other chocolates around. For me, every year I have to have at least one Crème Egg; its just ritual. Plus I love Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs. So I have bought one Crème Egg and one small bag of Mini-Eggs. I will savour, love and enjoy them. But I’ve decided that’s all this year.

3. Make your own Easter cakes…
Yesterday I bought my Easter hosts some wonderful looking cake from Betty’s in Harrogate. It looks amazing- full of dried fruit and marzipan. I may have a small amount. Or more likely I’ll make my own version using sugar substitute or natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup and brown flour. I even can make a sugar free marzipan – here’s my favourite recipe; I just swap the sugar with splenda.

 4. Get active!
Try and work off any extra chocolate or cake by joining in a kids egg hunt. Check the web for activities near you, or if you have children in your life offer to organise an egg hunt – that way you have the activity of both hiding the eggs and also helping the kids to find them! One person I know will be dressing up as an Easter bunny this weekend for a hunt they are organising in their local park. Even better as he’ll be so hot in his suit he’ll be bound to sweat off a bit extra!

4. Expect a sugar slump afterwards….
If you do eat lots of chocolate and cake, expect you will probably have sugar cravings in the days afterwards. So when they come, just know what they are and decide in advance not to give in.

4. And lastly – just have a lovely Easter.
Enjoy yourself and enjoy your food.

Peg xx

Binging when dieting? – Why, oh why, oh why?

 

As February starts I realised my new year diet has simply not been working. Not surprising as I realised I’ve actually been binging this January. So not only have I not been losing weight, I’ve actually put a little bit of weight on! I know I can diet when I’m motivated so why have I found it so hard to lose weight this January? And how am I going to get back to good habits?

Some of us just struggle around food…
We all have different reasons why we struggle around food. Do you live to eat or eat to live? Me, I love eating. I just don’t have an ‘off-switch’ and I like to just eat and eat and eat. What I’ve learned over the last 4 years since losing nearly 8 stone in weight, and keeping most of it off since is that I will just keep on eating unless I actively manage my food and make deliberate decisions about when to stop. I also have other strategies, particularly making sure that if I want to stuff my face I do it on food that doesn’t matter – like fat burning foods and calorie neutral or Low GI foods.

I’ve also learned that when I allow myself free-reign I lose all boundaries and can’t stop. Before Christmas I made some very, very calorific Florentines (they had 3 bars of choc in and a whole packet of butter). The idea was to take them to the family we were visiting over Christmas. I did take them places but guess who ate most of them? Piece by piece, I just couldn’t stop. The same on Christmas day – I kept eating till I was almost sick!!

New year diet resolution just not working…
I believe that when keeping weight off you have to occasionally re-balance as it’s inevitable you put some weight back on – particularly at a time like Christmas. But even going on my little catch-up diet on 1st January hasn’t stopped me from eating too much! I bought a new Hypnosis book and CD (The Hypno Diet) and have been listening every morning. It is telling me to reduce portion size. So a week ago, totally in the name of research you understand, I went to the most difficult place of all for me – the all you can eat international buffet! I was determined to follow my own advice on how to manage the buffet. Did I? Of course not and I ate and ate until no more could go in.

Back in normal life, I’ve been trying to keep to Slimming World. But sadly, the ‘free food’ concept has not helped – I’ve been eating fruit no-stop even when I am full, let alone hungry. It may be fruit but too much is starting to tell. And worringly, the hypnosis CD is not at this moment helping me.

Taking action…
So I’ve decided I have to take action
. And that is the key for us all I think. If a diet or how you are with food isn’t working, take some time to really think about what it is that isn’t working. A food and activity diary for a few days will help you see what needs to change.

1. Work out what isn’t working.
For me clearly I’m binging and I’m allowing myself to binge on foods I wouldn’t normally have.

2. Think about why it’s not working.
Is it comfort, is it just habit. Why are you feeling less able to make good decisions with food than normal? For me, I have had a lot of disruption at home over the last couple of months and I know I am on the verge of major change in my life. Is it so surprising this might make me want to comfort eat?

3. Work out what you can do to change these habits.
The answer to this one is different for us all. Maybe its just about changing what you do or a routine – for example if you are eating too much rubbish whilst watching TV, maybe try not to watch TV for a few nights or sit in a different seat. Or maybe you need to decide to follow a different eating pattern, eating different foods.

My solution…
For me, I know I need to shift some weight as I do each year (this time about a stone) and I need to stop the binging. So I’ve gone back on Lighterlife Lite for a few weeks. That way I don’t eat food at all during the day (you eat food replacement packs) and what I do eat is strictly measured. Then when I’ve lost the weight I’ll follow a programme to get me back to eating sensible amounts. Sounds drastic but for me it works.

What works for you…
Of course that’s the thing – what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. But once you have found what works for you, stick with it. Take it hour by hour if you have to do, or day by day. Take all the support and help you can from friends and family. And just love how you clothes feel better each day.

Follow the ‘21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’…
And once you are back where you want to be, well remember to check out my 21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off to help you stay there.

Let me know how you get on.
xxx

Quorn – brill for dieting and to keep weight off

When it comes to your new year diet or if you want to keep weight off, quorn is simply brilliant. Really versatile, it can be made into almost anything you would normally make with meat. And best of all it is really very low fat, low GI, high in fibre, high in protein, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, is fat burning and very low calorie. So all in all, a brilliant diet and weight maintenance food.

If you haven’t been converted yet, read on…..

What is quorn?
Quorn is a micro-protein, made by adding oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to a fungus called Fusarium venenatum which is described as being like mushrooms and truffles. Many quorn products also contain eggs. Quite disturbingly it was originally used to make material and animal feed! However it was quickly realised that because it has a good texture (some say its like it has been ‘knitted’) it is possible to shape it into various formats. By adding flavours it’s made into a meat-free alternative for everything from chicken fillets to fish fingers; from sliced deli-ham to a meat free pate.

What can you get…..
Quorn products which are great for slimming and watching weight include:

Need to be cooked:

  • Mince
  • Sausages
  • Chicken style pieces
  • Chicken style fillets
  • Beef strips
  • Swedish style and Italian style meatballs
  • Burgers
  • Pepper steaks
  • Lamb steaks.

Deli food ready to eat:

  • Sandwich meats – ham, chicken, beef, turkey
  • Fajita strips
  • Roasted fillets
  • Tikka fillets.

There are loads of other products too but not all are low fat or good for slimming. For example the bacon and Southern Style Burgers taste great but have more calories (though they are still relatively low calorie). And many of the ready meals or products can actually be quite calorific. So you need to check those carefully.

Really easy…..
Two great aspects of quorn which make it even easier to use are that it keeps quite well out of the fridge for a day or so if you are having food on the go. So I will often make a packed lunch/tea of deli products and a tub of salad.

Also you are OK to defrost and re-freeze. So even if I make a meal with frozen quorn I often re-freeze the cooked meal to have when I need something quick and easy.

Good on diets…..
Quorn should fit well with your diet. On Slimming World mince and pieces are superfree foods; on Weight Watchers  basic quorn products are low in Pro Points. It is also a low GI food so will fit with your low GI diet. Just check your particular diet for more details.

You do need to cook slightly differently though…
Believe me, if you slightly adapt how you cook quorn you can give it to unsuspecting meat eaters and they will often not know. The trick is to use more liquid than with meat and add in some additional flavours such as herbs and spices, marmite, Bisto, balsamic and other vinegars, Worcester sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, stock cubes or bullion etc.

A note of caution…..
However there is a note of caution with Quorn. Some people are violently allergic to quorn and it is thought this is linked to people who are allergic to certain fungi. I have a friend who will be really sick within hours of eating any quorn – tough for him as he is a mainly veggie! Although its believed the numbers of people allergic are relatively small, if you are new to quorn and you are ill after eating it (or if you get ill after eating a lot) then maybe you are one of those people.

So what are you waiting for? How about trying quorn soon in….
Bolognaise, curry, chilli, lasagne, stir fry, pasta sauce, with couscous or rice, sausage casseroles, cottage pie, roast dinner, fry-ups, steaks on their own with salsa and salad, meat loaf, paella, risotto, Thai curry….

Staying motivated when dieting

It’s sad but true that many people fall off the new year diet wagon by 14thJanuary. So if you are on a new year diet, or trying to keep weight off, and you are finding it hard to stay motivated, read on. Staying motivated can be a challenge but it is possible. So here are some tips to help you keep motivated and keep on track with your new year diet.

Courtesy of Will Merydith

  1. If you do go off course don’t give up or think that means you cannot diet. Just accept you wobbled a bit and decide to get back on track from this very moment. Don’t beat yourself up – instead concentrate your energy on keeping on with the diet in future.
  2. Remember that most people don’t lose the weight they put on each Christmas. So year on year it just piles on. So its important if you want to lose the weight to try and shift it right away.
  3. Have you lost any weight or bulk at all in the first two weeks? Smile and feel positive as you think about even the smallest amount that you might have lost.
  4. Write down all the reasons why you went on the diet in the first place. Keep this list to hand and add new ones as you think about them. When you are funding it hard look back at the list.
  5. Think about all the food on your diet that you do love. Smile as you think about them and the fact that you can eat them on your diet. 
  6. Remember a diet is not for ever. Take it one small step at a time. You don’t have to conjure up motivation for the rest of your diet – just the next few hours or day.
  7. Join in with group activities, go to classes, call on your friends, do a hypnosis CD, download an app to help you monitor your weight and food. Take inspiration from others. That’s what Fiona who regularly contributes to my Facebook page does; she recomends Dietgirl. Do anything that will help you keep on track. 
  8. Visualise your end goal – how you will look when you reach your target weight. Get out photos of you the size you want to be or get a picture of someone else and put your head on it so you have a positive image to concentrate on. Make this your phone home screen or computer desktop and smile and feel positive everytime you look at it.
  9. Up your exercise – even little things like doing  a short 10 minute walk or a quick swim can make all the difference. Exercise makes you feel better and helps to supress appetite. And obviously it burns off calories too!
  10. Lastly – if you are finding the diet you have chosen really hard work, have a good think about whether it’s the right diet for you. If you want some hints about this have a look at my last blog post.

So good luck. And keep us updated about how you are doing or sharing any other motivation tips you have.
Love your body and love yourself.

Peg x

How to choose the right New Year diet for you

January is the month when most people go on a diet spurred on by new years resolutions to lose weight and regain a slimmer figure. Most of us will have put on weight over Christmas and sadly most will not lose it. The start of the new year is a great time to decide to, at the least, shift any new festive season weight, and maybe to shift a few extra pounds as well. But how do you decide what is the best diet for you? And how can you keep motivated when your diet becomes hard?

January is ‘diet month’
Research suggests that 30 days is enough time for most of us to develop new habits. So if you tell yourself that January will be diet month this may help. 30 days is really not a long time to try something different as this brilliant (and short) talk on TED.com explains.

Decide which diet based on your habits and likes and dislikes:
We also know that people are more likely to diet successfully if you do one of the formalised diets, and especially if you have a group to go to or a way to check in with your diet and actual weight loss progress. But how do you decide from the plethora of diets out there? I am not aligned to any particular diet as I think different diets work for different people. But we all need impartial information, so, bearing that in mind here are some ideas to help you decide:

  • Think about what you find hardest when dieting. If you can’t stand being hungry or find that when you are all you think about is fattening food then go for a diet which allows you to eat as much as you want of some foods – for example Slimming World, the Atkins or Dukan diets. Remember though that which foods you can eat will be restricted. So if you are the kind of person who needs to have a taste of lots of different foods and you can cope with eating just small amounts of foods you like then choose a diet which allows this in small portions, such as Weight Watchers or many of the diets you find in magazines.
  • Think about how much weight you want to lose and how long you want to lose it over. To lose a lot of weight quickly you’ll probably need to do what’s called a Very Low Calorie Diet (VCLD) such as Lighterlife, Cambridge Diet or Celebrity Slim. I did Lighterlife and it was brilliant for me because you get counselling as well but you do need to be really committed to not eat other food and you need to think about what you will do afterwards to not just put the weight back on afterwards.
  • Think about what happens after the diet. Do you also need your diet to help you change your eating and activity habits after you finish the diet? If so think about what it is you need to change and choose a diet which will help you do this. Or it maybe you decide to mix diets – to choose a diet which is not too challenging at first to get that initial weight loss and then to change to one which will help you change your habits afterwards. You could also choose a diet which has a maintenance phase such as the South Beach Diet, or a Low Gi diet which is a lifelong eating plan.

If you need support from others choose a diet that offers a group near you and at times that suit you. Most of the big diet companies have loads of local groups.

My choice:
Well I need to shift about half a stone so I’ve decided to start with a protein and veg based diet – I’ll try the Slimming World Success Express but with no carbs to speed my weight loss for a couple of weeks. If its going well and I’m finding it possible to stick to then I’ll stay with this. If not, I’ll go back to Lighterlife and do some counseling as well to support the weight loss.

Lastly – don’t give up!
If you choose a diet and you find it’s not for you, don’t assume that you can’t diet and just give up. Instead, sit down and think about what you find hard and then look at other diets to see if they might be easier for you to stick with.

Remember everyone has bad days when dieting so don’t let a bad day be the end of yours. Don’t beat yourself up, accept you’ve had a bad day, smile and just tell yourself it will be better tomorrow.

Good luck and let us know on here how you get on!

How to survive Xmas Tip no 5 – Dont panic!!

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 5:
Don’t panic! You always have January to deal with any extra festive weight.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Even if you follow all these tips you may still end up putting on SOME extra weight. It’s pretty inevitable if you eat or drink more than usual, you eat different foods and do less exercise. So don’t beat yourself up or give yourself a hard time; accept it’s inevitable and decide that you will deal with it in January. BUT MAKE SURE YOU DO! Research suggests that most people don’t lose the weight they gain over Christmas – and year on year that could add up.

From just cutting things out through to a full-on diet
For some people, all they will need to do to get back to normal is to cut out the extras they’ve been having – such as cakes, chocolates, take-aways or even alcohol – for a few weeks.

Other people may need to go a bit further and cut out foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice for a few weeks. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. A bolognaise sauce or a chilli can be just as good on a bed of salad leaves as on pasta or rice. Just swapping your morning toast for a bowl of porridge may be easier than you think, and it will keep you feeling fuller for longer. If you do have carbs such as bread, pasta or rice, always keep them brown as wholegrains don’t turn to fat in the same way as refined carbs.

You may decide you need to go on a formal diet. Research shows that people who follow a recognised programme where they are part of a group or structured programme do better than those who try to go it alone. Remember there are loads of different diets and different ones suit different people. So think about the diet you choose carefully and whether it is one that will suit you. If you try one and it’s not for you, look at others rather than totally just giving up; there’s bound to be one that suits you.

Go to rule no 4 -Dont slump – find ways to be active

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 4

 

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 4:
Don’t slump – still try and keep active.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

It’s just too tempting to be a couch potato over the holiday period. We’re often indoors for longer and our usual routines go out of the window. So be conscious of this and try and find ways to get as active as you can during the holiday period.

  • Try to avoid internet shopping – going to the supermarket uses up calories. See filling your shopping trolley as a workout and enjoy! Can you make shopping for presents a day out? Go by public transport, walk round loads of shops, carry bags and enjoy!
  • Go for family walks. Wrap up warm and all go out together and make it a lovely social occasion. Make it a part of your holiday.
  • Play games with the kids and get as active as possible – really go for it on the Wii. Choose active games rather than sitting watching the TV.
  • If you go to parties,  be the king or queen of the dance-floor. Boogie on down all night and burn off those calories.
  • Find other little ways to be as active as possible – if you’re on holiday from work,  you have more time – so use it! Park your car a bit away when you go out. Do small shops at local shops and walk. Use public transport as much as you can. Keep things upstairs so you have to keep running up stairs to get them. Get amorous! Having sex is a great way to burn off calories.

Go to rule no 3 – Plan, plan, plan!

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 3!

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 3:
Plan, plan, plan. Plan all your meals and food throughout the festive season, including the days after Christmas. Balance sugary, fatty high calorie food and drink with other low fat, high protein, high fibre fat burning meals.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Do a meal plan for the whole festive season, including after Christmas. Think about your meals across a day and week so that if you know you’ll be at parties and/or eating out and eating high-calorie, sugary, or fatty food you can balance these against other meals which are fat-burning and slow-release. You can download a Festive Season Meal Planner here.

Remember that not all calories are equal. Some foods turn to fat more quickly than others (such as refined, fatty, sugary and many processed foods) and should be avoided. But others, like low GI foods and fat-burning foods keep you feeling fuller for longer, help boost your metabolism or take more energy to digest. So you need to fill up with these foods and plan meals that include:

  • Loads of fruit and vegetables – try to fill over half your plate with vegetables.
  • Lean protein – lean meat or veggie alternatives such as soya, quorn, pulses and nuts.
  • High-fibre – go for brown over white. Avoid all refined carbs such as white pasta, rice, flour, bread etc and instead choose brown pasta, rice, bread etc. Use oats and oatmeal in food where you can – it’s often easy to swap flour for oatmeal.
  • Low-fat dairy – such as skimmed milk or fat-free yoghurt.
  • Use as little fat as you can – choose virgin olive or coconut oil when you need oil.

Planning your meals will also mean you’re less likely to end up having take-aways. It’s easy to think they are quicker, cheaper and easier, but in fact I don’t think they are any of those things. They are also more likely to make you put on weight. So when you plan your meals, plan a number of really quick easy meals for the times you can’t be bothered – such as stir-fry, pasta or quick rice dishes like chilli. Another good hint is to make extra when you do cook and freeze it, so all you need to do is pop into the microwave.

Manage your sugar rushes
Remember that when you have a lot of sugar it brings on sugar rushes which means you are more likely to crave more sugary food. So on Boxing Day and the days after Christmas, plan to eat as much slow-release Low GI and fat-burning food as possible. This will help you manage your blood sugar and help to reduce sugar cravings. Get Low GI and Fat Burning foods here.

Go to rule no 2 – Christmas is a social time.

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 2!

 

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 2:
Christmas is a social time – so think about how you will deal with people who you know find it hard when you are careful about your food and drink. Just because others are eating and drinking doesn’t mean you have to.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Unfortunately we all know someone who finds it hard to accept other people’s decisions about food and drink. For example people who want you to eat loads – like Mrs Doyle in Father Ted (Go on, go on, you will, you will, you will!) This can be really hard if you are staying with others over Christmas and you feel you have to follow their food and drink habits.

So remember that mostly, this is THEIR issue, not yours. Think about anyone in your life with whom, when you spend time with them, you find it hard to keep to your food and drink decisions. Have a think about why this is and try to talk to them BEFORE the holiday period about why you want to make certain food and drink choices, about how important this is to you, and ask them to help you keep to these decisions. Offer to sort out your own food if this will make it easier. How about asking for this as your Christmas present! Remember, just because other people eat or drink to excess this doesn’t mean you have to.

Go to rule no 1 – Christmas dinner is not the problem.