One of the questions I often get asked is: “How do I enjoy festive eating this Christmas without putting on weight?”
Christmas is traditionally known as a time for overindulgence, throwing caution to the wind and worrying about the damage afterwards.
The festive season is full of irresistible temptations and dealing with unexpected emotions. Not to mention the big feast on Christmas Day itself.
So how can you enjoy the Christmas pudding and have fun this Christmas, without piling on the pounds?
Let’s dive in and explore some useful ways to navigate through this busy season…
Here’s a little statistic that I’d like to share:
The average weight gain for the holiday season is about 2.27 kg or more. Which might not sound like much, but research shows that most of us don’t lose it, and in fact we may gain more during the year.
The best approach is planning and making some decisions in advance.
This puts you in control of your time and gives you a plan you can follow so that you don’t have to react to unexpected events.
Step 1: Create your Christmas eating plan
Holiday eating is often unstructured, so planning in advance and identifying HOW you want to feel during and post your break will shift your perspective.
Here are some useful questions to help you
- How do I want to feel at the end of my holiday?
- If feeling this way is my goal, how would I eat?
- What choices do I want to make with food so that I can feel the way I want to feel?
- What will help me stay connected & support me to eat peacefully this holiday? (like a reminder on my phone, some quite time alone, an extra walk etc.)
Step 2: Avoid holiday food traps
Here are some strategies that I find very helpful in dealing with tempting situations and avoiding the holiday food traps:
A. Have a snack before you arrive to a party
To avoid you overindulging on high fat foods like cheese, chips and dip, which are usually consumed mindlessly. You can try and eat a healthy balanced snack around 60-90 minutes before you arrive
B. Practice the art of compensation
Holiday eating usually means extra treats and more down time. So, to achieve a healthy balance between healthy eating, regular social outings and weight control, a key skill is learning to compensate when you’ve overindulged.
- Factor in an alcohol-free day
- Eat lightly for the rest of the day after a heavy meal
- Eat lightly in the morning if you are going to a lunch tie event
- Do some extra walking or exercise
C. Watch what you’re eating when you’re ’drinking
Chances are you’ll be enjoying a few drinks with friends more often than usual during the holidays.
- Alcohol decreases some of the activity of the prefrontal cortex , the part of your brain that is involved in your decision-making abilities.
- When you drink, the alcohol disrupts your decision-making ability when it comes to healthy food choices.
Here are a few tips:
- Decide how much you will drink before you head out
- Have water or sparling mineral water in between drinks
- Have a small meal before you head out, so you don’t feel the effect of the alcohol too quickly
- If you eat after your drink the best food options are: seafood, salads and grills as they will help you control your overall food intake
Step 3: Set Healthy Boundaries
The festive season is a busy and stressful time of the year with so many events on and extra Christmas things to do.
All of this, on top of your normal busy everyday life can feel overwhelming to say the least.
Setting up healthy boundaries by learning to say “NO”, can help you avoid the stress and overwhelm that many women tend feel at this time.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are a life enhancing system of “yes‟” and “no‟s.”
They are stop signs and borders you install to protect yourself so that it is clear that you own your life, make good choices, and pursue the authentic expression of who you are in the way you live, love, give and relate.
To back out of a commitment:
“I know I agreed to attend your party, but after reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won’t be able to give it my best attention.
To say no to extra commitments: “Although this event is important to me, I need to decline your request to attend in order to honor my family’s needs.”
To say no to ‘food pushers’: Thank you for offering, it look/s amazing. I’m too full to enjoy one now, so can I take it home/ try some next time?”
You’re saying no without hurting any one’s feelings. Just remember to be genuine: smile, refuse politely and offer a compliment.
And last but not least, allow yourself a splurge here and there and treat it that way.
What does this mean for you?
It’s okay to indulge sometimes, in fact it’s normal! Just get back to your ‘healthy eating plan’ straight after. You can even do a little bit of compensation exercise, if that makes you feel better – just don’t do it as punishment.
“Remember to avoid putting extra stress on yourself to be perfect! Throw away this useless expectation and enjoy Christmas!”
Now I have a question for you….
- What is the first step you can take to create your Christmas Healthy Eating plan?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please write a comment below.
The Carousel would like to thank Irena Geller for her contribution.