The temptation to over-indulge or over-eat can peak during the Christmas season. With the abundance of delicious and tempting foods, and the continuous lineup of social events and Christmas parties, it’s easy to see why.
Even as a child I remember eating so much food on Christmas day in an attempt to taste everything and to the point of feeling extremely uncomfortably full. Now I recognise this behaviour is a potential danger zone for a disordered relationship with food.
I have worked hard to curb my own temptations to overeat and I hope that the following tips may help you to also strike a balance between enjoying the delights of the holidays, whilst maintaining a healthy relationship with food and your body.
1. REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU CAN HAVE IT LATER.
Knowing that certain foods will be available later can reduce the temptation to eat them when you’re not truly hungry. Remember you can always bake or cook them yourself or purchase them from the store. Also if you feel comfortable, take a doggy bag home or ask for the recipe! The host will likely be delighted at this gesture. It shows an honest liking and appreciation for the food or meal they have created. This will also stop the worry that if you don’t eat the food immediately, you will miss out.
2. AVOID BECOMING TOO HUNGRY.
Don’t skip meals to save your hungry for later. When you go without food for a long period of time, you can become ravenous and more likely to over-indulge. If you want to ensure your appetite is healthy for when you arrive at an event, eat something small to take the edge off any hunger you experience in the preceding hours, without becoming full e.g. a piece of fruit, some crackers, cheese, raw vegies, etc. Foods high in protein and fibre are great options.
3. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR STRESS LEVELS.
Between gift-buying in chaotic shopping malls to entertaining, travelling, dealing with certain family members and rising financial pressures, stress levels can increase during the holidays. Turning to overindulging and overeating may help us to “cope” with our emotions, but its not always the healthiest option. Instead, tune in to these stressors, take time out to breathe, relax and exercise, and be wary of any stress triggering temptations to emotionally over-indulge.
4. KEEP UP THE EXERCISE.
Maintain your exercise routine throughout the holiday season. If the gym is closed, head out for a walk or a day trip. Exercise will not only keep you feeling great and reduce your stress levels, but makes it difficult to over-indulge. Exercising on an overly full tummy isn’t pleasant!
5. DON’T FORGET THAT ALCOHOL COUNTS.
Alcohol can be a huge trap for over-indulgence, as well as additional useless calories. Be wary of your alcohol consumption and choices. Intermit your drinks with plenty of water, choose the light beer and limit the sugar-sweetened soda beverages. Sip your drinks slowly and enjoy them!
6. BE REALISTIC AND CONSISTENT.
Try not to be too hard on yourself this time of year and be realistic about your health goals. It’s probably not the best time to commence a weight loss endeavour – instead maintaining weight is perhaps a more realistic goal. Be consistent with your eating and exercise schedule – eat plenty of real foods (vegetables, fruits and wholegrains) – and make sure you do things for yourself (not just for others).
7. SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
This is really what the holidays are all about! Savour the conversations with family and friends, get up and play some games with the kids, help with the cooking and cleaning up, head to the beach and take a night-time walk with your partner or a great friend. When you focus on the great people in your life, you will find yourself less likely to overindulge. After all it’s difficult to politely chew mouthfuls of indulgence when deep in conversation with your grandmother-in-law.
8. INDULGE MINDFULLY.
Heck, it’s the holiday season! You’re supposed to enjoy yourself and indulge. But be fully present. Take your time to enjoy the aromas, flavours, textures and details of the food you eat. Even sharing a sweet taste with your partner is a wonderful way to indulge mindfully.
I hope the following tips are useful to help you overcome temptations this silly season and to enter the New Year feeling great! If you have any other great tips, I’d love to hear from you by leaving a comment below.