As a psychologist, I understand how stressful the Christmas period can be. But for any of you who have struggled with your weight and relationship with your body, it can be a particularly difficult time as there is much more socialising, getting dressed up, meeting up with people you may not have seen in a while. On top of this, a lot of these occasions centre around food! This can be an anxiety inducing recipe.
I remember for years viewing the Christmas season as this time for binge-ing, feeling totally stuffed and that all the gluttony would be ‘guilt-free’ because it was Christmas.
But of course, the guilt still consumed me.
Lying on the sofa feeling extremely stuffed seemed so appealing back then. But now even the thought of that instantly makes me feel sluggish, uncomfortable and all out of energy.
How do I want to feel instead? I want to feel fully nourished by a delicious plate of food that satiates me, and to be in-tune with my body so I eat when I’m hungry, not just because ‘it’s Christmas.’
You see, food doesn’t need to be the ‘filler’ that it used to. I don’t feel the need to have the big blowout at Christmas just because ‘it’s allowed’, and that’s because I haven’t restricted myself the rest of the year. I’ve given my body what it wants and needs, and haven’t deprived it of anything, which is why Christmas (or anytime), binge isn’t on my radar anymore.
Anxieties around this may be creeping up for you, which is completely normal. If you’ve been working hard on looking after yourself recently, it’s bound to feel scary as we approach a period that can be, quite frankly, heavily food and drink focused.
How will you resist? How can you say no? How will you stick to your new habits when temptation is everywhere?
I totally get it. Which is why I’ve put together 5 Ways To Ease Off The Over-Indulgence This Christmas, in the hopes that I can inspire health and well being so that you can enjoy the time for everything else that’s going on too…
1. Eat Intuitively.
Often through this season, we can eat for the sake of eating. The box of chocolates gets passed around, the invitations for dinners and social drinks are out in force, and you guess another mince pie won’t do any harm. This year, try recognising and appreciating everything you eat, and be totally present with it when you’re eating it. Notice the flavours, savour the taste, breathe in the smell – it will make every taste more enjoyable, and will help you to process the fact you’re eating for pleasure, rather than out of ‘binge’ behaviour.
2. Am I Hungry?
This is a perfect time to question your decisions around food, because the focus on food all around you is so heightened. Become really aware of the difference between when you’re hungry and when you’re simply eating for the sake of eating. For every decision you make around food, ask yourself: Am I Hungry? Or am I just eating it because it’s there? This will help you to recognise how your body feels in both situations. Use the hunger scale as a guide. You should aim to eat when you feel slightly hungry and you should aim to stop when you feel pleasantly satisfied.
3. Embrace The Experience.
Christmas can be a truly joyous experience – when else do you get surrounded by the people you love, at a time where you don’t need to rush off or be somewhere else or have a call to take? It’s a precious time, made all the better when we treasure it (rather than focusing on those potential family frictions). Take in the delicious smells, notice the smiles on people’s faces as they open their gifts, the songs that are playing in the background, the laughter around you, and even the stunning quiet of nature if you get out for a walk to blow the cobwebs away. There is so much more to Christmas than all the food (though of course it’s a big delicious part of it), and experiencing it all in balance is where you’ll find the magic. (And might just take your eye off that 3rd mince pie of the morning, too…)
4. Celebrate you.
This season certainly isn’t a time to be punishing yourself. No matter if you forget to follow the above advice, your healthy habits slip a little, or you do end up eating that extra mince pie or three – this is a time to celebrate how far you’ve come this year, to celebrate what you’ve achieved and to show your body and yourself the love and respect you deserve. Reflect on where you are in your journey, and express gratitude for your achievements.
5. Don’t say the words ‘I’ll start in January.’
You know it and I know it, by putting off or burying your head in the sand about your eating habits, even in December, you’re simply prolonging the process and making it even harder for you to glide into the New Year with confidence and motivation. Commit to your change now, and come the 1st Jan you’ll still be enjoying and embracing your lifestyle change, rather than making your lacklustre list of resolutions.
I hope you find these tips helpful and that you enjoy a wonderful Christmas break! I’ll be getting ready to bring my own bundle of joy into the world this Christmas, so 2017 is already set to be exciting!
PS: Imagine in 3 months time, you’re able to radiate with confidence, spring out of bed full of energy springing out of bed full of energy every morning and feeling totally free to eat whatever you fancy without carrying that heavy, all consuming guilt. The time to get started is right now, ahead of all the New Year nonsense that you know never works, and to make the change before the gluttony and stress of Christmas kicks in. If you’d love to discover how you can transform your entire relationship with food, your body and your mindset, so you can finally experience FREEDOM in every area of your life, you can find out how to reprogram your mind to transform your body right HERE.