Christmas is only a few days away and for many people, this is the time they start to say ‘screw it’ when it comes to healthy nutrition choices. This is where those same people expect us to turn into scrooge and tell them they can’t enjoy the lead up to Christmas when it comes to food and drink; and that they also have to be sensible and practise healthy eating habits with only one or two treats over Christmas. Now if you’ve read our previous advent blogs you already know this is not what we support, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that much of the Christmas ‘damage’ comes from the days preceding and following Christmas itself.
The chocolates, nuts, puddings, food and drink gifts, and Christmas cheer are all around you already. It’s torture to deny yourself any of it! But it doesn’t mean you have to throw all other nutrition habits out the window! Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to skip the healthy smoothie or omelette so you can have croissants or pancakes. Have a smaller portion of both, or save the ‘treats’ for one or two days of the week. Don’t think: “I’ll skip lunch because there are cakes out at work”. Lunch will fill you up and stop you eating so many treats! You don’t have to stop all that healthy eating just because you can’t get to the gym now the kids are off school. Continuing whatever healthy habits you can, will minimise the impact missing the gym has on you.
Most of us LOVE to eat more over Christmas and put up with that much fuller feeling, which is ok on a couple of days. However, over just 2 or 3 weeks this overeating can make a big change to your body. On a normal night most of us are quite good at stopping when we’re full (even though we should stop when we’re just starting to feel full i.e. satisfied – but that’s another blog for another time), but over December it’s suddenly ok to eat so much you feel ready to burst. If you really stop and think about this you realise how unnecessary it is, and how silly it is just to do it because it’s the ‘festive season’. How many of you like feeling so full you feel sick? It’s possible to have treats without uncomfortably stuffing yourself!
So what can you do to minimise overeating and weight gain? It’s actually very simple – don’t ignore your goals, beliefs, health and existing good habits JUST because it’s Christmas and there’s more temptation around you. Yes your diet won’t be perfect, but it’s certainly better than ignoring your healthy habits all together. It also means it’s a lot easier to pick up where you left off after Christmas… the hardest thing to do once all the fun dies down.
Make sure you do the following on the lead up to, during and after Christmas:
If you apply these simple and easy steps, you can then happily allow yourself the treats here and there without guilt, without gorging, without justification. Knowing it’s ok to have treats usually stops people from overindulging in them. Whereas starving yourself because you know you’re going to overindulge can actually make you eat more. Making sure you apply the steps above should stop you feeling so hungry and keep the cravings at bay. Once Christmas Eve hits you can relax a little more if you like, then on the 27th or 28th, you can reel things in a bit again. It doesn’t mean the fun is over, you’re just looking after your body.
Don’t undo all of the past years hard work in just a couple of weeks. Don’t set yourself up for wanting to crash diet in January because you’ve been so ‘naughty’ over December. Don’t start the New Year off with a negative feeling about your body. Enjoy the Christmas period, but don’t say ‘screw it’. For me this just means ‘putting a wall up’ in your mind to block out sensible choices – you know they’re there, but you can’t see them, yet you still feel guilty. OWN your nutrition choices, they’re YOURS to make, YOURS to change and YOURS to ‘fix’ if things go wrong. No one else’s, just YOURS!