The holidays are coming, Christmas parties are in full swing, and you may have already felt that awful food anxiety start to set in.
Let’s unpack this for a minute.
Maybe you’ve worked so hard on your health all year that the threat of letting it all go into a bottomless pit of Christmas pudding is making you as fiercely protective as a mama lion with her cubs.
Maybe you’re still on shaky ground with your food choices (and that’s okay!) and you’re terrified of losing the little bit of self control you’ve managed to muster.
Or possibly it’s the having to face the many “well meaning” family members who will badger you to have “just a little bit” until your resolve is weakened and you eventually cave, because it’s easier just to keep the peace.
Are you exhausted with your own thoughts yet?!
I get it. Christmas time is fun, it’s festive, it’s a chance to let your hair down and stop adulting for a bit… (basically my favourite part). Celebrations around food and alcohol, story telling and social connection… for some people it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
And for others, it can be a source of terrible stress.
What we DON’T want, is you at war with yourself, following everybody else’s rules or feeling like you’re missing out on all the fun.
What Christmas is not…
Personally I think one of the biggest problems in society today is that we have totally glorified junk food. We’ve put it on a pedestal to shine like an object we desperately want to have and we almost feel a sense of disturbing relief when things like Christmas come along and we are “allowed” to gorge on them.
What we should be celebrating is real, wholesome, healthy food.
Our bodies, who carry us through so much.
Surviving the rollercoaster of the year and getting through it with our marbles not (all) completely lost.
The gratitude that we have for a moment to reflect, breathe, practice the pause.
So this year, what about embracing Christmas in a healthy way?
My Guide To Surviving Christmas
1. Set Some Non-Negotiable Foods To Avoid
We all have those one or two foods that we just KNOW don’t make us feel good. Does bread make you bloat? Wine keeping you up all night? Pick a couple of these big triggers (make it achievable!) and practice saying a firm NO to those foods. This keeps your foot in the door with regards to your health without it being overly restrictive. Then, you can work on some negotiable foods. Examples might be a little hard cheese, or a dark chocolate homemade dessert.
2. Load Up On These
Christmas produce is the best! I love this time of the year! This is a great opportunity to give your body a boost of quality, seasonal fresh foods (cherries, I’m looking at you). If you’re going to indulge in anything, make it whole foods. Load up on those gorgeous Christmas salads, fresh fruits, and plenty of protein. In fact, protein is the best place to start to fill you up and stabilise any sugar cravings. Have a high protein meal or snack before you go to any holiday event and you’ll be much less likely to snack.
3. Practice Your Food Language
The hardest part sometimes is speaking up! Before you can be an advocate for your health, you actually have to believe in what you are doing and choosing. So practice saying things like “I’m feeling so great on my healthy eating journey, I’m not stopping now!” Or “Actually I don’t want that (food)”. Or even “I eat this way/avoid that food because it makes me feel good, and I like feeling good”. Or my personal favourite “I eat like the rockstar I am”. Say it until it feels like it sticks, and then armed with these phrases, be prepared to be your own best cheerleader on Christmas Day!
4. Swap This For That
- White Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes
- Chocolate – Dark Chocolate
- Processed Food – Homemade Food
- Excess Sweets – Seasonal Fruits
- Bread – Root Veggies (or no bread!)
- Cheese – Meats, Olives, Nuts
5. Alcohol Strategies
Firstly, understand that it is within your absolute right to say no if you choose. (see point 3 above). Alcohol is an individual thing and I’m not here to be the fun police, I promise! But if drinking excessive alcohol leaves you feeling excessively awful, then have some tricks up your sleeve is a great place to be. Remember that all alcohol dehydrates you, so drink plenty of quality mineral water as you go. Avoid high sugar drinks like mixers and sweet wines and ciders. Always choose QUALITY. You can also make some incredibly festive non-alcoholic drinks by crushing things like berries and mint and adding sparkling kombucha to make a spritzer.
Remember…You can absolutely still maintain your health during the holiday period. It’s about honouring your body, and focussing on all the other magical and joyful things around you, while allowing yourself some fear-free foods that deeply nourish your heart and soul.
Me? Well I do make a pretty mean panforte…. and I have been known to polish an entire bowl of cherries in one sitting 🙂
Wherever you are,
Whatever you do,
I hope you have a holiday season full of joy and love.
Merry Christmas Everyone,