Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. There’s plenty of presents and colourful lights and festive decorations and holiday parties. But most importantly, there’s food. All of the food. Sooooo much delicious Christmas food to be eaten at just about every opportunity. There’s no escape!
A typical day in the holiday season is usually filled with many more opportunities to eat compared to other seasons. There can be tempting leftovers in the fridge from a family dinner the night before. At work, there’s often Christmas-themed treats scattered around the kitchen or break room. Super-sized family portions of just about everything come out to play at the supermarket. Not to mention the copious amounts of chocolates, wine and other assorted goodies you might receive as presents. It really is the season of food.
It’s for this reason that the holiday season can be an absolute nightmare for anyone trying to stay healthy or lose weight. Christmas time means we’re completely inundated with food, tempting us from just about every direction. To combat this, many weight-loss focused websites offer lots of tips on how to have a “diet Christmas.” They suggest things like:
“Don’t drink alcohol or yummy drinks on Christmas or you’ll get fat.”
“Try these 21 low-calorie Christmas recipes that have no fat (or flavour).”
“Don’t have nibbles or dessert to say goodbye to the Christmas bulge.”
Thanks, but no thanks.
Christmas only comes around ONCE a year. The last thing I want to be thinking about is calories, fat content or food guilt. Is it really a crime against health and wellness to enjoy yourself for one day a YEAR?! You won’t be getting any calorie-cutting Christmas tips from me. But what I do suggest is making some ground rules beforehand.
Here are 11 ways to still have a good time this silly season without obliterating your weight loss progress.
1. Don’t try to lose weight
Don’t unnecessarily torture yourself. Use this time of year to take a break from trying to lose. There’s plenty of time for that in the New Year. Maintaining weight should be your goal for the holiday season.
2. It’s Christmas day not Christmas week
If you’re not conscious about this one, it can be easy to splurge all the way from the work Christmas party until the family barbeque on New Year’s day. That can easily ruin months of progress. Have your designated days to splurge, think Christmas day and New Years Eve, then get back on track.
3. Eat your vegetables
Although you might be relaxing your diet a little more than usual, that’s no excuse not to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Make room for your five serves as part of your Christmas feast. Eat them first so you don’t get too full to fit them in. You might even want to start Christmas day with a green smoothie!
4. Don’t restrict yourself
We’ve all done it. Cutting calories on the lead-up to Christmas, so you can have a big day of binge eating. You eat far more food than you would have normally. But because you’ve told yourself you’re getting straight back on a diet tomorrow, you try to pile in even more food before midnight just for the sake of it. Unplanned restriction like this is rarely effective.
5. Choose healthier ingredients
Food doesn’t have to be refined and processed to count as a Christmas treat. Using healthier ingredients that have the same great taste is a great way to make holiday food that little bit better for you. Cook with olive oil. Use whole grain options. There’s Bonus points for organic foods, too!
6. Eat mindfully
The whole point of good food is to taste the deliciousness. But with the mountains of food available and many types to choose from at Christmas, it can be easy to scoff things down. Make each bite as mindful as possible.
7. Keep on moving
Just because you might be relaxing your food rules doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. Keeping up your workouts throughout the holidays will really help you to maintain your weight. Get up a little earlier on Christmas day and fit in some exercise, even it’s just a walk. Anything is better than nothing.
8. Don’t buy too much food
Copious amounts of leftovers (especially of the less-than-healthy variety) will just tempt you after Christmas. It’s very easy to get carried away shopping when you know the shops won’t be open on Christmas Day. But is it really going to be the end of the world if you’re a bread roll short? Try buying less food in the first place. But if this does accidentally happen, you should…
9. Store leftovers out of sight
Leftovers are pretty much guaranteed after Christmas, especially if you’re hosting. Freeze food in small portions where possible. Repurpose things like roast vegetables and lean meats into healthy meals. Store treats out of sight, or give them to family and guests to take home.
10. Have a post-Christmas fat loss plan
Not to be mistaken for an excuse to binge eat, a post-Christmas plan can help rid you of food guilt. It will help you to take action to lose some of the weight gain that is almost inevitable at the time of year.
11. Don’t be too hard on yourself
This time of year can be a trap for food guilt. Christmas does only come around once a year. Don’t drive yourself crazy with high expectations and restrictive rules. Instead, be proud of all the wellness and weight loss achievements you’ve accomplished in the last year.
Let’s chat below! Do you think it’s essential to be healthy at Christmas, or do you prefer to relax and enjoy the holidays?