Think back to January this year. Christmas is over, New Year’s been and gone… how are you feeling? As stuffed as the Christmas turkey with your clothes feeling a little extra snug? The average person experiences a 4-10lb Christmas weight gain and who could blame us with all the mince pies, chocolate, meals out, cocktails, food, food and a coca-cola truck load of more food to tempt before it even hits 1st December.
We promise ourselves to be “disciplined this year” and vow to dodge all the pies… then we drink a couple of hot chocolates, polish off the whole tub of celebrations that we were saving for Christmas Day, and feel guilty, sluggish and out of shape for the rest of the month.
Why do we overeat over Christmas?
Well, because the food is just sat there, staring right at us. And it all looks, smells and tastes so good!
We use December as an excuse to eat whatever we want. It’s Christmas! Even if we don’t intend to use the excuse ourselves, our friends and family sure do. It makes their decision even more justified if they have a buddy scoffing all 24 advent chocolates in a row with them.
But unfortunately all the Christmas magic in the world won’t make that chocolate calorie and fat free all of a sudden.
And how is it that when we are faced with the decision of whether or not to devour a whole load of Christmas treats, we forget that we actually feel quite rubbish straight after eating them, and for the next few hours, and for the next few months once we’ve realised that, yes, it does actually go straight to the hips.
Instead of being proactive about Christmas decision-making we only react after the damage has been done.
How to enjoy Christmas without the Christmas Weight Gain
Remember, you always have a choice – you have 100% free agency over whether that treat crosses your lips.
I know, easier said than done with all the temptation around. So here’s my 5 top tips which should assist with damage control…
1. Eat to get full, not stuffed
I’m not saying you can’t have treats. It is Christmas after all! But that doesn’t mean every single meal you eat in December needs to include chocolate, mince pies and sausage rolls.
Stick to 3 decent, healthy meals a day, load your plate up with 80-90% meats and veggies – foods that will satisfy you – then leave a little room to have a treat or two. Fill yourself up with your veggies first, then the meat/protein, and the carbs last. If you’re feeling full and there’s still food on the plate, you don’t have to finish it!
If your meal satisfies you, you’ll be much less likely to overeat the naughty stuff.
2. Know your trigger foods
Acknowledge which foods might trigger a binge episode. Can you simply not stop at just a few celebrations? Does one mince pie suddenly turn into the whole pack of 6? If that is the case, pick and eat something else from the line up instead that you will still enjoy but won’t be as likely to overindulge on.
3. Plan to indulge
Yes, you’re going to have some treats and eat your favourite foods, but plan ahead. If you know you’re going to have goodies in the office one day, plan what you are going to have in advance.
Plan to eat a biscuit or two, or one slice of cake, savour them, then move on. Planning to indulge eliminates anxiety, reduces guilt, and allows for a balanced to eating and drinking.
4. Beware of comfort eating
Lets face it, Christmas is stressful. The shopping, the crowds, the family, money, being stuck at work when all you want to do is be out doing Christmassy stuff. Don’t use food to cope. In your plan, figure out what you’re going to do when you’re feeling stressed. How about a relaxing walk? A nice cup of tea? A classic Christmas movie? Whatever you do, don’t impulse-grab at a tin of shortbread biscuits. It’s not worth it.
5. Stay active
Yes, the month of December is a busy one with so much going on. But if you allow time for just 20 minutes of exercise a day you can save yourself a lot of effort working off the extra pounds in the new year. If you’re out for a meal or drinks in the evening, do a 20 minute workout first thing in the morning. You’ll feel less guilty about indulging if you’ve already burnt the calories. And it’s actually been proven that if you start the day off with a quick workout, you’re more likely to make healthier decisions throughout the day.
With a proactive approach – a plan and the right mindset – you can avoid Christmas weight gain entirely. And if you do overeat or “accidentally” binge on treats, use that food energy to fuel an awesome workout 😉
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