It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Family get togethers, meeting up with friends and of course lots of yummy food! You probably expect the dietitian to tell you not to overdo it, avoid the chocolates, swap your mulled wine for a white wine spritzer and gets lots of exercise. Diet culture almost encourages the idea that we eat well all year round and then when it comes to December we can throw all of our healthy eating habits out the window. It is like we are encouraged to eat perfectly and exercise until Christmas, and then punish ourselves again in January! Let’s this year let go of the guilt and enjoy what you like.
Christmas for most is about one week of the year…I find there are two types of people at Christmas time. The ones who will eat to excess and then feel guilty and then there are those only permit themselves 1 roast potato with dinner, one mince pie and need to exercise daily to compensate for any treats. How freeing would it be to let go of all the judgement and guilt and to have what you feel like. Realistically you will probably find that you only wanted 2 or 3 mince pies over the week anyway and you really enjoyed chats during family walks. We don’t seem to have this same extreme dietary approach to say going on holidays so why do we at Christmas time?
The food at Christmas can actually be relatively healthy… roast turkey with potato and lots of vegetables is a healthy meal. Christmas cake and pudding are filled with dried fruit and are high in fibre. There maybe a few more drinks and sweets thrown in and that’s OK. The important thing is to do what works for you and what you want to do.
Some tips to avoid any guilt over Christmas!
- Ditch the Restriction – avoid saving calories for a party or meal. Our bodies need regular fuelling and really don’t like restriction! When we restrict calories we can lose touch with our hunger and fullness signals and then we do allow ourselves to eat we can end up eating more that we might have. Eat regular meals and snacks as you normally would. Doing this still allows you to enjoy holiday foods you love but you will be more likely to feel satisfied with 1 or 2. servings.
- Be kind to yourself – Christmas is a time for family, rest and celebration. Your routine will be different and that is OK. You may go for long walks with family, you may stay up late watching an old movie or eat turkey and ham sandwiches in your pjs on St Stephens day and enjoy every minute of it. This change in routine and permitting yourself to go with the flow will not undo your normal healthy regimen.3. Avoid good versus bad! – This idea of if I let myself eat one I’ll eat them all comes from diet culture. Forget the good versus bad label of foods… if you are eating all your meals as normal you will find that you are able to have what you like. You might fancy a mince pie even though you are not hungry and that is OK, we only tend to eat them once a year. By permitting yourself to have them you help to normalise foods and once we do this we tend to eat them in a more relaxed away and eat to appetite.
- Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or saying! Basically mind your own plate. – What you choose to eat is your business and no one else’s and likewise what someone else eats is their business too. Avoid commenting on what others have eaten, or saying things like ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that’ or ‘I must go for run after everything I ate yesterday’. Let’s ditch the guilt and if someone else starts diet talk politely change the subject!
- Do continue to nourish yourself! I’m not saying forget about healthy eating… eat fruits, vegetables and balanced meals for your digestion, energy and feeling good. We still need our vitamins, minerals and fibre! But this shouldn’t impact enjoying those few Christmas treats and few parties or dinners!