It’s that time of year again.
Whether it’s under the tree, on the tree, at your desk, at a party, at the next party, in the office, in your kitchen or at the gym… with the holidays approaching you can’t walk the length of a candy cane without stumbling on a form of glistening sugar filled ‘treat’.
Is navigating food during the Christmas season a stress point for you? What do you do with the temptation of food at this supposedly most wonderful time of the year? Or maybe for you it’s still the most wonderful time while it lasts but then the payment for a fun December is a guilt ridden, oversized January.
Christmas for me used to be the day I most wished for a bottomless stomach and an infinite calorie limit. Who’s with me?! All the indulgence, none of the pain. Then in the absence of my wish being granted I would act like it had been; donning a big hoodie towards the afternoon, grabbing an extra mince pie and finishing up the day overly full of both food and regret.
“Is this really how it has to be?”
That was my regular December 26th question. Can we enjoy this day, get excited about happy food, indulge, celebrate and then not feel bad? Can we enjoy December fully and still feel amazing in January?
I can now tell you from experience: Yes, absolutely!! (I have a whole blog post on Indulging with Freedom
which you can read here but I’m going to give a more practical 10 steps!) This year I’m not dreading Christmas food, or a slump afterwards. I won’t be hitting the gym harder in the New Year, or quitting food and prescribing myself a January of green juice and water. At the same time I won’t be restrictive and boring over Christmas either. Believe me, I’ve been that person at the table, and it’s no fun for anyone. (Thank you tolerant family!) No, this year I’m going to go home, eat delicious fun food, drink some wine, enjoy some scotch, savour more chocolate than usual, brew extra coffee and enjoy every moment. I won’t need a hoodie to hide a bloated Christmas tummy, but I won’t be lacking in happy family, foodie moments. Yes, it’s been a journey to get to this point but it’s fully possible and below I’m giving you a few of my top tips for truly enjoying the season, and the days beyond as well!
1) You are powerful! You’ve got this! This journey begins in your mind. You are not a victim of the holidays and this is possible! Feeling over-fed and overweight are not inevitable by-products of Christmas. You get to choose and do whatever ‘doing well’ is to you.
2) Don’t buy into the lie that you’re depriving yourself! That’s not the goal! This one’s important. Remember you’re doing this for you!! So when you make choices that lead there, it’s not deprivation, it’s you giving yourself what you actually want! (Sometimes ‘want’ in the moment, isn’t actually ‘want’ long term and a ‘no’ in the moment is always part of a bigger ‘yes’ to something else. When you say ‘no’, remember what you are inherently saying ‘yes’ to – Saying ‘yes’ is easier than ‘no’!!)
3) Arm yourself! For the things you want to avoid, find substitutes that are still happy and have them on hand all the time! For me this looks like clean treats, and good quality dark chocolate. It’s easy to say no to a junk-filled treat in the work kitchen or at a party if I know I can go home to some organic raw chocolate, or I can grab some homemade granola from my bag instead.
4) Join in the fun! Don’t zone out from family fun, make a dish that’s healthy and add it to the table, something you will enjoy but everyone can join in on! If you’re joining others for a meal, suggest you bring a dish to add then bring a seasonal side or dessert that’s delicious and clean for everyone to enjoy with you!
5) Choose where you want to indulge then do it with freedom and joy. Know what you’re aiming for. You need to indulge, just make it a conscious choice! Think about January and how you want to feel post holidays… then work out what a real true indulgence is and what’s just not worth the moment of fun. Portion off what you’ve decided to eat and put it on a plate and enjoy every single mouthful!
6) Eat lots of protein. For me, this is the thing that helps stop the sugar cravings, which makes it easier to truly choose my treats without succumbing to a craving moment. Green juice is another thing that helps people get over the cravings too.
7) Practice saying no. So many times we feel guilty saying no and it becomes an excuse to say yes. 99% of the time, it’s fine to say no without judging other people’s choices. Practice that little word ? it’s worth it! Sometimes making a good choice makes the people around us feel guilty, but you still get to make the choice you want, and don’t make a song and dance about it, just don’t judge anyone else’s choices, and say a simple no thanks.
8) Find your reason. Take a moment and workout out how you want to feel in January and why it’s not worth totally ‘giving up’ on being healthy! What’s your reason? Then write it down!! Put it in your pocket, in your purse or on your phone! It’s way easier to be motivated if you have a great reason and you keep it close!
9) Eat often! Don’t starve yourself and ‘save’ the calories. It never really works. It’s tempting to plan for that office party in the evening by skipping lunch or an afternoon snack so you can eat more at the party and still not over do it. But really, who succeeds when they walk into the dessert laden room on an empty stomach with low blood sugar? Exactly. Instead, eat small meals often, and eat before the party! Keep yourself steady and your blood sugar stable so that you’re not driven by your body and you retain the power to choose what you want to eat and where you want to say no!
10) Celebrate yourself and have grace for yourself!! If you’re even trying you’re doing well! Don’t give up on the day because you made one choice you regret. I used to be that person – it was all or nothing, perfect self control or giving in completely. Instead, learn to forgive yourself and pick up and move on. A good choice is always a good choice, no matter what happened before it. Celebrate the good choices you’re making and remind yourself… you are amazing!!