Tips for Christmas and New Year.

By Louise Petrou

By Louise Petrou

Here we are, the silly season, the summer holidays. Every year, at your doorstep to entice, emotionally stir, delight, share the childrens’ excitement, feel connected to others, honour what Christmas means to you. A potential dampener in the mix could appear if you partake in something you view as ‘wrong’ or ‘forbidden’.

This period can also involve post-celebration guilt, shame and self-loathing. And this can be the undoing of all your joy and set you back. You deserve better than that as you bring in 2019.

You might have rigid rules about ‘forbidden foods’. Some of these may be societal rules; aka ‘fat people shouldn’t eat that’! Yet there are no such rules. You won’t receive a fine if you don’t believe in them. They are belief systems that you may have adopted from societal pressures such as comments you’ve received or media articles over many years.

Food may have a moral compass for you: good and bad foods. The usual Christmas spread with its cake, pavlovas, crusty breads, soft drinks, and chips – unless you’re booked in to a wellness retreat, or are in charge of the catering, may present themselves.

As an adult, you make the choice of what you eat. Guilt and shame are quite an unnatural consequence of feeding yourself.

If you find yourself in pursuit of perfection even after bariatric surgery, remind yourself: “The Christmas New Year period can present a dent in my health goals – IF I let it”. Ask yourself: “is my one mouthful of Aunt’s pavlova really worthy of a moral transgression worthy of guilt and shame?”. No, of course not.

Making certain foods forbidden can have a backfire approach in that if we see foods as being ‘taken away’ or in the ‘naughty basket’, we can feel psychological stress from the deprivation. And that can lead to eating more of the said ‘forbidden foods’.

Here are some tips to get you through. Remember you have made such progress in your self-care; there is no need for shame or guilt this Christmas/New Year/holiday period.

1. Food is food. Some is more nutrient rich and some is denser in calories. By assessing these things, you’ll be better informed to make a positive decision and you will also feel good afterward. When you assess the festive spread, think about what is in the food item. If you feel like trying it, savour it and then remember to be more prudent with your choices in the following days.

2. The practicalities don’t always match your good intentions. If you are mindful of this, the situation will be more manageable. You wouldn’t go on a picnic without organizing your food and water. Adopt the same philosophy: pack a snack or bring a plate to the function that you will like/need to have at this time. Jazz it up to look interesting. (Even puree can be served with nice green leaf on the side!).

3. Stay hydrated. Take that bottle of water chilled. Snack on foods with high water content. What is Christmas day without a piece of watermelon or a cucumber salad? Drink smart: no carbonated drinks. ‘No alcohol’ is sometimes unavoidable if people are toasting, swap with apple juice and soak up the atmosphere not the calories from your sober perch!

4. Don’t go to a function hungry. Have a small amount of something high protein and nutritious before you head off. That way you can say “no thanks, I’ll have some in a moment” if it is something high fat and high sugar you would rather not have, it may get eaten before you get a chance to have some. Great!

5. Exercise: take walks, have that swim (walking in water is still exercise), help clean up, be the washer person on the camping trip; it all burns calories. You will feel great and certainly guilt and shame has to try that bit harder to reach you when you have a big exercise smile on your face at the end of it.

6. Is it a long drive to your function? Pack the snacks! This will assist with fast food outlets of which there are not too many to count on the highway.

7. Mindfully eat. Take time and eat slowly, enjoy chewing your food properly. Multi tasking while eating is not recommended. Opening presents with a plate on your lap? Unwrap and then eat or vice versa!

You deserve a lovely holiday break, whatever form that takes. If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, enjoy a picnic. Grab some Vitamin D at the beach or rest under a shady group of trees (with a good book like the When Food Is Love Workbook by Geneen Roth).

(Photo courtesy: Pexels)