The festive season usually brings more opportunities to eat, drink and be merry. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, it can be difficult to avoid the yo-yo of overindulging at Christmas followed by over-restriction once the new year comes. As a Nutritionist I hate hearing foods referred to as good or bad and the automatic associations of guilt with foods we enjoy indulging in from time to time.
I’m a firm believer that we should value all foods as an important, enjoyable and integral part of the diet. It’s not about good v’s bad, guilt-free v’s guilty or treats v’s superfoods. Christmas doesn’t have to be about non-stop stuffing our faces and lounging on the sofa. It is possible to create balance, even at times of celebrations, and to enjoy the food and festivities of Christmas without feelings of guilt or dissatisfaction.
Here’s my tip of how to do exactly that….
- Allow yourself the mince pies, chocolates and mulled wine if that’s what you want. Telling yourself not to eat the things you want usually ends up in overcompensating by eating more of other foods and inevitably we still go back to the mince pies or chocolates because that’s what we wanted in the first place. Try not to think of these foods as ‘bad’ choices. There is absolutely no shame in enjoying the things you enjoy.
- If you’re not hungry, but finding it hard to avoid mindlessly snacking on food at a party just because it’s there, simply try moving a little further away once you’ve had enough. Research suggests that we consume less when food is moved further away.
- It can be easy to overeat at buffets or parties when the food keeps coming. Pay attention to the food you’re eating. Enjoy each mouthful and take it all in. Not just the taste but the look, feel and smell of the food too. Paying attention to what you’re eating can help you to enjoy each bite and be more mindful of when you have had enough.
- Variety is key and that doesn’t stop at Christmas. It may be a boring old message but variety is always important. Fill your plate with a variety of foods (ones you like!) and go for a rainbow of colours where possible.
- A traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, roast potatoes and vegetables is about as balanced as they come. Enjoy your roast with all the trimmings. Revel in each mouthful and aim to recognise how full you are feeling. Being more in-tune with your hunger and fullness cues is a big achievement for mindful eating.
- If you’re worried about over doing to booze try alternating every alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
- Don’t neglect the power of movement and exercise. Not only is physical activity good for your body but it’s good for the mind too. Even something as simple as a short walk down the road can help to boost your mood and prepare you for another games of charades with great aunt Margaret!