Prep yourself this Christmas with our extensive game plan that will see you enjoying the festivities without the guilt. Stephanie Osfield writes.
Christmas dinner is one of the biggest culinary deals of the year. If you only had to navigate that one day, things would be sweet – but it’s the drinks and parties and picnics and BBQs throughout the festive season that can bite. This means you’re out of your usual routine and not always cooking. You don’t want to look like you’re being all bah-humbug and not getting into the Christmas spirit, so you’ll be eating festive food. But you also don’t want to spend each event battling recriminations because you had too many chocolates.
Overthinking it? Absolutely not. Recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that in Germany, Japan and the US, holiday celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Golden Week do lead to weight gain. But the biggest kilos spike across the board occurred in the 10 days after Christmas. During this time, Germans gained an average 0.8 kilograms, Americans 0.6 kg and Japanese participants an average of 0.5 kg. And although most of those study participants shed roughly half of that weight, some of it remained. Consider the cumulative impact over time (the term ‘kilo creep’ persists for a reason).
If you’re torn between sanctioned excess and an ascetic festive season with BYO almonds, follow our experts’ plan to have your Christmas cake and eat it.
1. All Or Nothing Thinking
You Think: ‘I just broke my eating rules – I might as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the night.’
“All or nothing thinking is a worrying cognitive distortion that contributes to overeating,” says Sarah McMahon, psychologist and body image expert at Sydney’s BodyMatters Australasia. “It can lead you to eat far more than you would have done if you had just given yourself permission to have a little of what you like.”
Your Christmas Comeback:
» Be compassionate towards yourself: “The fact is that most of us will eat more ‘sometimes’ and ‘occasional’ food at Christmas time,” says McMahon. “The best thing to do is to allow yourself this pleasure, enjoy the food and trust that you and your body can handle it.”
» Eat mindfully: “When you slow down to savour each mouthful of food, you not only enjoy it more, your body and mind connect, so you start to notice when you are full,” says McMahon.
» View treats as a temporary detour: Yes, last night you had garlic bread and canapés. And today? You’re back on your usual track, eating three healthy meals and healthy snacks.
» Plate up your snacks: Even at parties where you can bring a food contribution like sushi and paper plates to serve it on. “This helps you to see how much you are eating so it is easier to realise when you’ve had enough,” says dietitian and nutritionist Rebecca Gawthorne.
» Serve your leftovers to go: If you’ve had friends over for dinner and know you won’t be able to resist the rest of the cheesecake or lasagna, serve it into take-away containers and send your guests home with the leftovers.