Here’s an updated version of a blog I posted a couple of years ago..I’m re-posting it because of some recent conversations around overwhelm and food at this time of year.
I’d like to ask you a question. How are you feeling about the festive season and the feast of food and drink that will be all around us for the next few weeks?
Let me tell you a little story..
When I was about 12, I remember waking up on Christmas morning and there at the bottom of my bed was a pillowcase bulging with nick nacks, stationary and the 12 packets of Golden Wonder Salt and Vinegar Crisps I’d asked Santa for. I ate every single one before breakfast! I absolutely loved those crisps with a passion. I was still very much like that until a few years ago. I’d eat the whole big bar of chocolate, the whole packet of biscuits or the whole bag of crisps. As you can imagine, I loved the festive season because I could eat a lot of everything!
So what’s my point?
Soon the Christmas feasting frenzy will be well and truly underway. Everywhere you look there’s already temptations for the sweet-toothed, the savoury snacker or the festive foodie. Tubs of chocolates and mince pies at work, stores stacked high with food of every variety, two for one, three for two deals encouraging us to buy more, Christmas parties and drinks and that’s all before the big event itself, which can last up until New Year! For those who struggle around food or have weight that they don’t want, it can be a challenging time of year.
What do I mean?
In the last couple of weeks I’ve started hearing people mention food and drink – the temptations, the challenges and their anxiety about the coming festive season. These people say they often end up feeling guilty when they say ‘no’ to food and drinks being offered. They feel the pressure of persuasion and don’t want to be called a party pooper. So it’s likely they’ll give in and later feel bad because they’ve eaten and drunk too much or feel like a failure for giving in. Does this sound at all familiar?
It doesn’t have to be that way… Here are 8 ways to enjoy the festivities and feel fabulous.
1. Plan it – Change the all or nothing approach to festive eating and drinking. Decide which days you’ll over-indulge and then commit to making healthier choices on the others. Save the feasting for Christmas and Boxing Day. Or eat healthily for 2 of your 3 meals each day. If you decide to have chocolate for breakfast then eat nutritiously for the rest of the day.
2. Vary it – If you overeat one day, eat less the next. You could even try intermittent fasting a couple of days a week. An easy version is where you fast between 6pm and 10am and only drink water and tea/coffee, eating your meals during the remaining 8 hours.
3. Think about it – Make conscious decisions – Why are you eating? Are you really hungry? Is it just because the food is there and you’re mindlessly grazing? Are you stressed, annoyed, bored and eating emotionally? Becoming conscious of what triggers mindless eating, puts you more in control. As you reach for that slice of cake, pause, step out of yourself and get another perspective on your decision.
4. Say it differently – Change the words you use when you make a choice. Saying ‘I can’t have that’, ‘I’m not allowed to eat that’ is likely to make you feel like you’re missing out, want it more and just end up annoying others around you. Try saying ‘I don’t want it’, instead. Own your decision and put yourself in control and remember, you don’t have to give a reason.
5. Slow it – Take smaller mouthfuls, chew your food properly and really taste it. Hoovering your food up like a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner means you’ll overeat. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to register fullness and digestion starts in the mouth. If you eat fast, you’re more likely to get indigestion and feel that overfull bloated, OMG I’m going to have a food baby, I can’t move off the sofa kind of feeling.
6. Shrink it – Decrease your portions by using a smaller plate or bowl for your food and no, that doesn’t mean piling it high or going back for seconds instead! Choose to eat the foods that are special to Christmas in place of, instead of in addition to the foods you have the rest of the year.
7. Drink it – I’m talking about water here! Drink a glass or two 30 mins before each meal. As well as preparing your stomach for digestion, it will help you eat less. If you do drink wine with your meal, sip it and really focus on the taste and how the flavour works with the food.
8. Move it – Get your body moving and fire up your metabolism by going for a brisk walk before you eat. If not before, then go after to help with digestion and balancing your blood sugar. Or get out and play with your kids or grandkids, put on some music and dance! It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as you MOVE!
Making conscious positive choices and doing them a majority of the time is what will keep you, your blood sugar and your body stable and well. It’ll also take the pressure off, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to enjoy yourself without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. And if your weight is of concern to you and the needle goes in the wrong direction a bit, instead of deciding to give up, take action instead. Set a goal, devise a plan do the first step straight away.
Have a wonderful festive season and an fabulous New Year everyone! xx