Eat Well and Be Merry- enjoying the Christmas guilt-free.
With the run-up to Christmas and the inevitable increase in food- what is the best way to handle the festive period in regards to our nutrition?
Beyond the day itself, the Christmas period becomes a time where it becomes inevitable that our relationship with food and drink changes. Festive foods such as mince pies and chocolate selection boxes become a frequent sight at work and around the house. Dinners out and social events become almost a weekly occurrence as Christmas parties and catch-ups with friends and family allow us to celebrate the season with those closest to us. However, we're also aware of the inevitable new year's adverts for slimming groups and exercise programs lurking around the corner which can lead us to feel shameful about our enjoyment and possible weight gain during the Christmas season. So what's the best approach in terms of how to approach our nutrition around Christmas?
The truth is that whatever approach you chose for the Christmas period should be entirely up to you and not somebody else. Whether you are eating unrestrictively and enjoying the season's offerings, trying to balance things out or in the middle of a calorie deficit that decision is yours and yours alone. Too often there's peer pressure on us to drink more rather than consuming amounts that we are happy with.
Look at the long term
If we consider the Christmas period to be about 3-4 weeks so roughly 1/12th of the year. If we consider that of this period there are roughly 10 days where we're likely to overeat and indulge. In the grand scheme of a year, 10 days out of 365 isn't likely to have a massive impact on us providing we continue with our good habits for the rest of the holidays, things should balance out over time.
Give yourself permission
Too often during this time we see those extra treats and tell ourselves we shouldn't eat them. We give certain foods moral value and tell ourselves certain foods are bad and hide them away only to dive into them headfirst in a moment of weakness. That one chocolate became the tub, the one biscuit became the packet. Rather than denying yourself and then binging on them later- give yourself permission to eat some and allow yourself the opportunity to save some for later. Plan them into your daily diet.
Consider your goals
If you're currently on any sort of weight loss diet, this time of year can be difficult in terms of sticking to plans. You may feel fearful of eating Christmas related food during this time for the fear of extra calories or avoiding social occasions as they may include eating and drinking more. On the possibility to this could be periodizing your calories- lowering your calories on certain days to provide additional calories during social days. One other option would be a diet break. Why not take 2 weeks off of being in a calories deficit, switch to maintenance calories for a couple of weeks then go back to your deficit once the festive period is over. You'll be better off adhering to your goals doing this than trying to diet through the holiday period.
I think above all else- what's really important, regardless of what happens, is that you enjoy this time and show some compassion to yourself over this holiday regardless of what happens. Don't stress about the scales, and just because you've had a short period of eating more you're not a failure. Enjoy this Christmas on your own terms.