Standing in your local supermarket, you glance between the produce section, where you intended to go, and the aisle of baked goods. Deep down you know that if you go down the baked goods aisle that you will trigger your overeating at Christmas mindset and this will lead you to the Festive Season mindsets and behaviours of binge eating which will last for a month or more.
Those brightly coloured stacks of Christmas goodies keep catching your eye. You resist, clutching your carefully prepared shopping list. You are here to buy fresh veggies, salad and roast ingredients for a healthy, satisfying Christmas dinner for your family and friends. You can hear that little voice trying to bargain with you saying that, if you have a healthier Christmas dinner than the desserts and chocolates are okay. You deserve it and you have saved yourself the calories during the main meal.
Making wise food choices can be challenging at any time of the year however, eating healthy at Christmas can sometimes seem like an impossible task. The temptations of Christmastime plus dieting mindsets, which are common yet unsustainable in the long-run, can endanger your short-term and long-term health goals and send you down a sabotaging path.
You’ve probably heard about the endorphin-producing powers of chocolate, but it isn’t the only culprit. Normal human survival instinct responds to everyday Stress by driving you to seek fatty and carb-heavy foods. Eating rich food triggers the reward centre of your mind and leads to excessive indulgence for those who are susceptible.
The good news is that you can minimise overeating at Christmas and during the Festive Season and reduce your urges by preparing a game plan and adopting a mindset that gives you the mental and emotional resources to enjoy food responsibly without feeling deprived, restricted or like you are on a diet.
10 Tips to Reduce Overeating at Christmas & Improve Healthy Eating
Tip #1 – Regular Meals Throughout the Day
Relying on willpower alone is stressful and usually unsuccessful. You need to train yourself overtime to manage situations that may disrupt your resolve by developing strategies and healthy patterns that you are happy and confident in sticking to. An effective and healthy eating pattern is to have breakfast within 1 hour of waking up and eating regular, smaller meals based on whole foods every 3-4 hours. This plan can increase metabolism and prevent hunger pangs throughout the day.
Tip #2 – You Have Choices
You can set yourself up for success at the table by assessing what is on offer and then choosing the options that are going to nourish you first. For example, choosing vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, salads and other healthier options first.
Tip #3 – Size Really Does Matter
Choose a smaller plate and keep small spaces between the food, to ensure moderate portions. This is a better alternative to building a small mountain of mash and roasties right off the bat and finishing it all in the name of politeness. This allows you to begin to portion control and learn to not eat with your eyes.
Tip #4 – Slow Down
Exercise mindful eating by chewing slowly and concentrating on every bite. Eating at a slower pace increases your satiety at a faster rate and can prevent overeating.
Tip #5 – All of the Choices
Select foods that you will truly savour, not dishes that just happen to be in front of you.
Tip #6 – Fresh is Best
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of nutritious eating at any time of the year. Eating fresh produce over the holiday season will go a long way towards keeping your mood, mental health and energy up and your weight down.
Tip #7 – Your Dietary Needs
Do you have a cousin that serves up fast food feasts for Christmas as a ‘special’ treat or a grandmother that lathers anything and everything in butter and cheese? Prepare your own meal or snacks full of healthy veggies, lean protein, plant proteins, wholegrains, and fruits and explain your dietary needs and goals to the host. Make sure you bring enough to share with everyone!
Tip #8 – Water is Wonderful
It’s easy to confuse thirst for hunger, as both are registered in the same part of the brain, so remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 2.2L, or approximately 8-9 glasses, of water a day.
Tip # 9 – Routines and Relaxation
As stress is the main cause of those pesky comfort-food seeking urges, de-stressing through other means like going for a short walk, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, doing something fun or meditating.
Tip #10 – Find Meaning
What are the most important things about the Christmas and holiday season for you? Too much focus is placed on the food and this disconnects you from the real meaning of this time. Is it: getting together with friends and family, gift-giving, dressing up, decorating, listening to cheesy music and connecting with your community? These are the true focus that can help you create a healthier mindset.
Finally, forget the “New Year, New Me” mentality. This is a damaging mantra that only momentarily absolves people from making smart and healthy choices but magnifies negative feelings down the line. This can lead to more Stress, and encourages the repetition of negative and unhealthy cycles. Instead, acknowledge your daily wins and achievements, no matter how small, as this will keep you focused on your goals and health.
If you want to get some basic hints and tips to improving any form of Disordered Eating Behaviours, Weight Gain or Binge Eating read more here.
Fit Minds & Bodies Clinic provides a bridge between where you are currently and the direction you want to head towards. We offer a variety of programs and services that help you to shift your mindset to a more mindful, healthy relationship with yourself and with food through practical, and realistic strategies you can implement immediately.