It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
I love everything about Christmas. From the sparkly decorations to the colorful lights, tacky music and gathering with loved ones. However, sometimes it can seem more like ‘the most stressful time of the year’ with the crazy shopping malls, endless gift lists, family visits, work parties and oh so much yummy food! In order to cope with this madness, I suggest getting in early with online shopping.
Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about the crazy family members, but I do have a few tips on how to stay on track with healthy eating and minimise food stress – after all it’s the season to be merry!
1. Ditch diets
Going into Summer and the new year, you may be considering a new diet. My suggestion is: Don’t. Restricting food intake when there are so many delicious foods around is a recipe for being miserable, stressed and most likely ending in overindulgence and guilt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we mindlessly eat our way through every party. However, being overly restrictive at this time of year will inevitably fail. You’ll lose confidence in yourself even though it’s not you that’s failing, but rather the approach that’s failing you. The rest of these tips will help you establish a healthier alternative when eating over the holidays.
2. Challenge your mindset
“Well I may as well go crazy, I’ve already stuffed up, I’ll enjoy the holiday season and start over in the new year”. This is what we call an all-or-nothing mindset. It never works, ever. It becomes a cycle of overly restrictive followed by overindulgence and guilt. No, your diet is not going to be perfect over the holiday season – in fact the perfect diet doesn’t even exist. So this Christmas, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, it’s the best gift you could give yourself! See how to ditch the ‘all or nothing’ approach and stay consistent for more tips.
3. Embrace healthy habits
If you add up all the events that you will attend over the holiday season, it’s probably only a handful of occasions or mealtimes. These occasions themselves will not have a significant impact on health and weight. There’s no need to go crazy over the entire season just because it’s Christmas. If you’re consistent with healthy habits such as eating mostly wholefoods, lots of veggies at meals and snacking on fruit, this will have a far greater impact than a couple of meals and will keep you on track with healthy eating throughout the season.
4. Be merry and mindful
Choose quality over quantity. For example, I would choose freshly baked gingerbread (which I only make at Christmas) over chocolate Lindt balls. Yes, I love chocolate but I can have it any time of the year. Same as lollies, chips, sausage rolls and all the other party favourites. We tend to overeat at this time of year, simply because it’s the holidays! Enjoy your favourite treats in moderation and skip all the extras.
5. Stop eating when you’re full
With all the delicious foods around, we can sometimes have a bit of FOMO and overeat instead of listening to our hunger cues. You can always keep leftovers for the next day, eat slowly and ask yourself the question, “Is this extra bite or serving going to make me feel any better or worse?”
6. Vegetables, the gift that keeps on giving
At every holiday meal, aim to fill half your plate with vegetables. You’re loading up on nutrients and fibre to keep you full, while displacing calories from other foods. Going to a gathering? Be the one to bring the vegetable side! At least you know you’ll have a whole food, veggie-based option. If you’re stuck for ideas, see our vegetable sides for Christmas or check out these salad recipes for a stand-out bring and share dish.
- Strawberry, basil and goats cheese salad
- Mixed vegetable slaw with miso and tahini dressing
- Quinoa Tabouli
- Mango and haloumi salad
7. Don’t turn up to the party hungry
Have you ever been grocery shopping while hungry? It’s not the finest idea! It’s difficult to make mindful, goal-orientated choices when you’re bloody starving! Inevitably we end up eating everything and anything. The chip bowl comes around, the cheese platter comes out and it’s not even mains or dessert yet and we’ve eaten the calorie equivalent of a whole meal. Sometimes we’re not even eating foods that we really want or enjoy, we just eat because we’re hungry and it’s there.
Instead of starving yourself in anticipation for an event, eat your usual meals and/or snacks leading up to the event. That way you will be more likely to consider the options and enjoy the foods you really want.
8. Go easy on the booze
We eat so much extra food over Christmas that sometimes we forget that drinks count too! Be mindful of how much you’re drinking by deciding on an amount before the event – setting a limit will help you slow down, spread out and enjoy the drinks you have. It’s also a good idea to drink a mineral or plain water in between. Try some healthier non-alcoholic (but still a little fancy) alternatives such as soda water with lime, infused water jugs, sparkling strawberry and mint drink or our blood orange slushy. See mindful drinking this Christmas for extra tips and strategies.
9. Move it! It’s the party season after all
Dancing, backyard cricket, bike rides, cooling off in the pool or a family trip to the park. Whatever you prefer, try to get active and fit in some movement over the holidays, you’ll feel better for it and stay on track with healthy habits.
10. Have a happy Christmas!
There’s so much more to life than what you eat or what you weigh. Don’t let food stress take away the enjoyment of time with loved ones, new experiences and holiday relaxation!
At the Healthy Eating Hub we believe that healthy eating is a skill. The team at the Healthy Eating Hub are passionate about teaching people how to eat well for the rest of their lives through building skills and practicing habits one at a time. Book in with one of the experienced dietitians at The Healthy Eating Hub or call us on 6174 4663.