Five Mantras For A Healthy Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner, and while this is supposed to be a time filled with joy and excitement, for many people it comes with unwanted stress and anxiety. Gifts, family get-togethers, social get-togethers, food, what to eat, how not to gain weight, all of these aspects can cause stress. And while they are all very important to deal with so we can have a stress-free and relaxed Christmas, this post will be looking at the food side of things, because unfortunately, for many people weight gain and losing control around food is a very bit stressor this time of year. I am hopeful though, that I might be able to help bring the attention of Christmas back to enjoyment, and away from food fear.
We are told by so many magazines, people at work, friends, and family, the things we must and must not do over Christmas in order to not gain weight, but I don't buy it! I don't buy that enjoying yourself and eating whatever you feel like for one day will magically make you gain 3 kgs. Regardless of what we eat, one day of eating, or even a few, is unlikely to have any long term consequences on our weight or health. Our health is a result of the things we do everyday, not the sometimes occasions. If we eat well most of the time and enjoy regular exercise, we can overindulge occasionally - when we are really enjoying the food we're eating and feel like having more, without any food-related guilt, because really despite what we're often told, guilt has absolutely no place in our food choices, whatever they may be. I'm not saying go wild and eat everything in sight just because it's Christmas, but if you eat what you feel like and really enjoy it, then having whatever you feel like is absolutely fine.
In fact, this study showed that people who felt guilty about eating chocolate cake gained 2 kgs more over 18 months (2.4 kgs vs 0.4 kgs) than those who thought of it as celebration food. So, with that in mind, here are my 5 mantras to help you celebrate this Christmas and enjoy it for what it is - a day of connection, excitement and enjoyment.
1. Let go of perfectionism.
Let go of how you think you should be eating, and just enjoy yourself! Christmas is just one day, and it provides us with a special occasion to spend with our family and friends, which is so much more important than worrying about everything that we do and don't eat. Having strong social connections is an important part of good health, so use this as an opportunity to strengthen the connections with your loved ones instead of counting every calorie you put into your mouth.
2. Allow yourself to eat whatever you feel like.
There is often an abundance of delicious fresh food at Christmas time, and this can cause a sense of anxiety and loss of control for people who have off-limit foods, but interestingly these forbidden foods tend to lose their power when we allow ourselves to eat them. If we move away from the designated 'good' and 'bad' food lists that we have created for ourselves, and change the aim of eating to nourishing our body and making us feel good, we can choose the food that will truly satisfy us. This means that during Christmas and the holiday period instead of being drawn to the foods that we don't usually allow ourselves to eat, which will no doubt be around over this period, we can ask ourselves "What do I feel like now?" and "Do I really feel like this now?" This will support us in choosing the food that we really feel like in the moment, and will help us in feeling more satisfied with our food choices.
3. Slow down and enjoy your meals.
People spend days, and sometimes weeks preparing the food for Christmas. Slow down and really enjoy what you are eating. Watch out for the different flavours, colours, smells, textures of food. It might be helpful to put down your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. Slowing down also helps preventing overeating, and makes the whole experience a whole lot more enjoyable.
4. Keep up with exercise.
Having time off over Christmas allows extra time to get outdoors and get active. Go for a walk before breakfast, play cricket with the kids, or go for an afternoon swim. Getting outdoors is a great time to spend with family and friends but also means that there's less time for mindless snacking.
5. Don't eat just for the sake of it.
Enjoy yourself and eat the delicious food that you really enjoy, but don't feel like you have to eat food just because it's there. If there are things you don't really like that much, it's fine to leave them and save your appetite for the foods you really feel like. For example, I'm not a big fan of fruit mince pies so I leave them, but I do love everything that's on a cheese platter so I enjoy these things mindfully.
And most importantly enjoy yourself! Enjoy spending time with family & friends, and enjoy the array of delicious options on the menu.
Do you have any mantras this Christmas? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below!
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