Christmas seems to come around faster every year. It feels like it should only be July right now but here we are madly preparing for the silly season.
With an endless calendar of events, it can be a challenging time of year to stay healthy and feel good about yourself for doing so.
I thought I would write a few ideas that can help you feel more vibrant and energetic this Christmas.
It’s a very social time of year with an abundance of events and opportunities to indulge in more food and drink than usual. Being too strict on yourself can end in feelings of guilt which can exacerbate the cycle of shame and poor eating habits.
From experience, when I feel shitty about myself I’m way more likely to make crappy food choices, entering me into a downward spiral. With that being said, we don’t want to go into Christmas with the mindset of, “oh well, it’s Christmas time, I’ll just get back on track when it’s all over”. It’s a whole month, and the longer this spiral goes, the harder it is to redirect back in a positive direction.
The trick is to slide yourself somewhere nicely between the two. Plan to enjoy yourself and choose what you want to indulge in.
Plan your weeks, and know when the events are that you want to enjoy a drink. Don’t let a whole week get derailed after one bad meal.
If you have the work Christmas party coming up, you could decide to eat well that day and then eat whatever is on offer at the party and have a few drinks.
If you stick to that plan, there’s no need to feel bad about it and the next day you can go straight back to eating well again.
If you know yourself well and you often drink too much then maybe it’s a case of saying, “I would normally have 6 beers, tonight I’m only going to have 4”. See how good you feel about yourself the next day after sticking to your word.
The key is to create a sustainable relationship with what you eat and drink that leaves you feeling in control, rather than the food or alcohol controlling you.
Observe what expectations you have on yourself. Are you being too strict that you stress yourself out? Or are you expecting too little of yourself that you have a total blow out for all of December and half of January? Either way, get yourself in check and enter with some forward planning. Set yourself up for success. Each day is a new day and you can pull yourself back on track as many times as needed.
If you can work on trading a mindset of restriction and deprivation, for one of self-care, chances are you’ll treat yourself much better because of it.
Humans have never been great with total deprivation; we need to treat ourselves and find enjoyment in food. If you totally restrict yourself and deprive yourself of this enjoyment, then there’s a higher probability that you’ll bust and end up eating something that wasn’t within your plan and feeling shit about it.
There are so many delicious and healthy recipes out there, perhaps look to bring something new to your next Christmas catch up that you can feel good about eating?
If you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to start practicing intuitive or mindful eating. I’m actually going to write a whole separate post on this soon as it’s so important and a huge part of feeling healthy, but I will give you a few tips in the meantime.
Start by trying to eat your meal without distractions (easier said than done if you have kids, I know, but trust me, it can be done).
Sit yourself down with your meal with no phone or TV (or other distractions) and connect with your senses.
What does the food look like? How does it smell? When you take your bites (and make sure they are not too large a forkfuls), what are the textures like? How does it taste? Try to do this for the whole meal, monitoring how your body feels as your stomach fills up, and register when you are actually full.
This may all sound pretty ridiculous, but doing this will help you to learn a lot about your body and the way you eat. It certainly highlighted a lot for me, number one was how fast I ate. Sometimes I would be halfway through a mouthful and have another fork full of food ready to shovel into my mouth before I would realise what I was doing.
When we eat mindlessly, we easily overeat, and then feel extremely bloated afterwards. Mindful eating helps you to learn to listen to your body and work out which foods are helping you to feel good and which are not.
You really begin to understand how important food is in our overall health. It makes a lot of sense that what we put into our body affects what we get out of it, but once you can tune in to your body you can really take this understanding to a new level.
Lastly, Christmas is really about sharing love and good food with your friends and family. Food has the power to enhance human connection and create a sense of community, so make sure you enjoy the time you get to spend with your family.
Have fun these holidays and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go exactly to plan. Laugh, smile, and shake it off. Tomorrow is a new day.