Around this time of year, I tend to get a lot of questions about food and Christmas.
My answer is usually the same. One day of eating off-track is not going to make any difference in the long run. If you’re going to eat off-track, do it consciously and feel no guilt!
But as we all know, Christmas Day itself isn’t even the half of it. Add in the Advent calendar chocolate, the coffee shop Christmas specials, a few mince pies, several glasses of mulled wine and the leftovers after Christmas – you can easily have put on more than a few pounds.
The first thing to keep in mind is that Christmas is not celebrated purely with food. You don’t have to over-eat in order for Christmas to be Christmas. It’s a time to spend with people who are important to you, sharing experiences and making memories. Food is of course part of it, but it isn’t the whole experience.
The next thing is to accept that there are some foods you only see at Christmas, and you are bound to want to enjoy your favourites. That’s fine, of course its fine. Just plan in advance what you can’t pass on, and what you’re happy to skip.
Make it easy for yourself to stick to your plan. My suggestion is to eat a healthy meal before you begin to open the door to off-track foods or drinks. If its a party, have a proper meal before you go so you’re in the right frame of mind. If its Christmas Day, fill your plate with meat and veg, then you’ll be much less likely to over-eat on the Christmas pud.
Try to forward-plan exercise as well as food. Its too easy over Christmas to simply sit around eating excess calories. A workout a couple of hours before a big meal is a great idea as it will make sure more of the calories are actually needed by your body. Fasting is another good way to achieve this calorie need; but approach fasting with caution – if you’re starving hungry and faced with a box of chocolates, its likely to not end well!
Finally, try to learn from past experience. Remember how uncomfortable that feeling of having overeaten is; the tummy cramps, the lethargic feeling – and getting out of breath just walking to the loo!