The festive season is always a busy time filled with Christmas catch-ups, works parties, barbeques, dinners out, and many other events where it is easy to overindulge and feel a bit too full.
A lot of people find that it is easy to maintain their weight and stay consistent during the year, however, the festive season is usually their shortfall, where it is harder to maintain your weight and harder to stick to healthy, nutrient-dense choices. It is common during the festive season that our intake of discretionary or “sometimes” foods increases and replaces our more nutrient-dense food options.
It is common for a lot of people to give up on their healthy lifestyle over Christmas due to their weight staying the same and not dropping, so instead, they eat whatever they would like and end up gaining weight instead. Over the festive season, it is more important to shift your focus from weight loss to focusing on weight maintenance, which means eating mindfully and opting for nutrient-dense options but still enjoying the foods you love in moderation.
Remember that the festive season is a time to appreciate quality time with your friends, family, and loved ones. It is also a time to relax, unwind and enjoy delicious food. The festive season shouldn’t be a time where you stress about everything you are eating, however, it also shouldn’t be a time where you indulge in Christmas cake and pudding for every meal of the day. Over the festive season, it is important to enjoy yourself but also eat mindfully.
Staying on track over the festive season can be hard, especially because there is so much temptation everywhere. Some basic tips that you have probably heard over and over include eating a nutritious meal before the event so you aren’t arriving starving, filling at least ½ your plate with salad/ vegetables/ fruit, using a smaller plate, and trying to drink water throughout the night. However, below I have decided to include some more practical tips around how to enjoy the festive season, maintain your weight and healthy habits, but also not miss out on the fun.
Please remember Christmas is generally only one day of the year (for some it may be 2-3) however in the scheme of things indulging and enjoying yourself for a few days during the festive season is not going to undo all of your hard work and consistent healthy eating over the other 11 months of the year. However, it will lead to enjoyment and a whole pile of memories that will last forever.
My top tips for staying on track and enjoying the festive session:
Allow yourself some freedom:
Stop worrying about strict food rules and classifying foods as “good” or “bad” or thinking you are only able to eat certain foods. Instead, try to fill your body with nutrient-dense foods and foods that you feel like and will enjoy.
Listen to your body, hunger and satiety cues:
Instead of eating everything in sight, take some time to think about if you are actually hungry or not? Is your tummy grumbling? Does your tummy feel empty? Are you actually thirsty? Or emotional? Or bored? Try to identify your triggers and only eat if you are actually hungry.
Be present and mindful:
It is so common for us to mindlessly eat. Sometimes we may finish a meal and not even realize that we have been eating for example when we eat and watch TV or scroll social media or reply to emails. Instead, take a moment, step back and be present. Pay attention to how the food smells, tastes, the texture of the food and savour every mouthful instead of eating so fast you finish your meal in 5 minutes. Another way to eat mindfully is by putting your knife and fork down between every bite.
Forget about the all or nothing approach:
Stop looking at the festive season as a period where you can eat everything and anything and then start fresh in the new year. Instead, change your mindset and work on having everything in moderation, this is more sustainable and will help you to stay on track year-round.
Don’t try to skip meals to save calories:
Starting your day with a healthy meal is very important no matter what day of the year it is. By starting your day with a nutritious breakfast you are more likely to be full and satisfied throughout the day. Just like Christmas, by starting your day with a nutritious meal you are less likely to arrive to Christmas lunch staving and are therefore less likely to overindulge and overeat on all of the Christmas goodies.
Don’t go crazy at the buffet/ lunch table:
A lot of the time Christmas lunch and dinner is filled with an abundance of foods and different types of festive options. Instead of rushing to the table and grabbing everything in sight, take a moment to scan what is available and on offer and try to pick a few of your favourite foods, rather than a bit of everything and creating a mountain on your plate. Once you have finished this food, if you are still hungry go back for some more food, however, try to eat mindfully and finish when you are full and satisfied.
Keep on top of your healthy habits:
Remember the importance of regular exercise and sleep in keeping your body healthy and happy. You may want to continue your normal exercise routine or you may decide to mix up your routine and include more walks with friends, hikes, ball games etc. Try to also prioritise getting around 8 hours of sleep per night to keep you feeling your best.
Most importantly don’t stress too much about what you are eating. Take the time to eat mindfully, be present and enjoy the time with your loved ones.
At Total Balance Healthcare, we hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas.
If you need help with your nutrition, are unsure of what to eat, are after nutrition advice, or more tailored advice on how to eat healthy on a budget, book an appointment with our dietitian Laura Goodridge today!
This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.