With Christmas fast approaching, people are starting to get anxious about what & how much they’ll indulge in over this mine-field of a festive season. This stress in & of itself can lead to comfort eating/over-eating which is not what you want.
In this post I’ve included some tips & advice to keep in mind regarding food in general. I’ve also got a specific post for dealing with the buffet as well if you’d like to check it out. There is a little overlap because food is food no matter how it’s served.
Let’s get into it.
Don’t go hungry
This is definitely tip number 1. A lot of people think that because they plan to have a big meal later in the day, they shouldn’t eat anything beforehand to save on kJ/caloric intake. This strategy is more often than not counter-productive & leads to over-eating.
You don’t have to eat anything large or high in kJ/cal, just make sure you’re not ravenous when you go to your event. Salads, veggies, fruit, boiled eggs, natural/greek yoghurt or a bowl of porridge make great healthy, light meals that will keep you from eating the house down once you arrive.
Limit big meals
Try to limit large meals/pig-outs to maximum 1 per day over the festive period. Many families already do this but if not, try to avoid having more than 1 big meal per day.
Find healthier versions of your favourite meals
The internet is a wonderful thing – use it. There are a multitude of healthy recipes out there. Find some that healthify some of your favourite meals & take those with you on Christmas day.
Be mindful & eat in moderation
This relates to some of the things I talked about in my buffet post.
During all the excitement it’s important to pay attention to how your body is feeling.
As you eat, take a moment to check in with your body to see how close you are to being full/satisfied.
Eating slowly will help you avoid eating past the point of fullness due to the delay between being full & feeling full (about 20 minutes).
Some strategies for eating slowly include: putting your knife & fork down between bites & properly chewing your food before you swallow. Taking a sip of water between bites will not only keep you hydrated & aid digestion but will also help to fill you up.
It’s also a lot harder to over-eat if you don’t over-fill your plate. Again, I talked about this in the buffet post but essentially, you want to take less than you think you’ll need to fill yourself up. Eat it slowly while checking in with your body. Wait at least 20 minutes & only go back for more if you’re still hungry.
Portion size: the healthy eating plate
This is a biggie. Fill your plate with this strategy in mind & you’ll be eating a relatively balanced meal.
A quarter of your plate should be protein (eg: legumes, cheese, meat, tofu , TVP etc).
A quarter of you plate should be grains (rice, pasta, bread, quinoa etc.) or starchy vegetables (pumpkin, potatoes, corn etc).
The rest of you plate should be non-starchy vegetables.
Don’t drown your plate in sauces, just take less than you need & top up if required.
Portion size will depend on your age, size, level of physical activity etc. Start with the healthy eating plate – a regular/small-sized plate, not an enormous one. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, top it up again with the same proportions. If you are only a little hungry, don’t fill the plate, just take what you need.
Smaller serving utensils/crockery
This is a really easy trick but very effective. We tend to grab a big spoon of whatever we’re helping ourselves to no matter the size of the spoon. By using smaller serving utensils, you can avoid accidentally dishing up too much.
The same thing goes for using a smaller plate. We are used to filling the space on our plates no matter what its size. If you use a small plate, you will naturally moderate how much you’re eating.
Psychologically, if you eat the same amount of food from a small/full plate as opposed to a large/half-empty plate, you are much more likely to feel satisfied.
Make smart food choices
Now, by this I don’t mean only eat healthy food & nothing else. What I mean is, make sure you are indulging in the foods you love rather than going for it just because it’s there. Here are some tips to help you keep your food choices smart:
Choose light over heavy. Lighter meals tend to have less fat in them than rich meals. If you do choose something heavy, keep portion size in mind. You don’t have to over-do it to enjoy it.
Go special over every day. Go for the things that only come out at Christmas time as opposed to things you can access any day. Keep it special & festive.
Don’t waste kJ/cal on things you don’t enjoy, want or need. Save your kJ/calories for things you love. Don’t eat things just because they’re there.
Use palette cleansers. Eating or drinking something fresh after a meal is great for making it clear to your brain that the meal is over. Carrying mints in your bag is a sure-fire way to ensure you have access to a palette cleanser when you need one.
Choose what you want to indulge in. If you’re a food person, don’t drink your kJ/calories. If you enjoy alcohol, don’t eat dessert. Spend extra kJ/cal on things you enjoy. Remember to eat a healthy & filling meal beforehand though. Absolutely do not replace a proper meal with treats or alcohol. It’s just not good for you.
I touched on this in the buffet post. If you can, keep a diary (digital or paper) of what you eat. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten when you’re busy socialising. If you have a list of things you’ve consumed, you can see just how much you’ve had & pull it back if you need to. You don’t need to go measuring things, just a list of items is often enough.
Pack a snack
This sounds silly but if you make sure you have something in your bag ‘just in case’ you won’t find yourself stuck with no choice but to eat something that doesn’t support your health goals. You’ll also be able to ward off hunger if the meal is delayed & avoid eating too quickly/overeating.
Knowing you have a back up plan also helps to alleviate stress so you can stay nice & calm & enjoy your day/s.
Don’t take food home or keep it at home
People tend to send you home with an arm-load of left-overs. If you want to limit the indulging to 1 day, absolutely do not take it home with you!
Make whatever excuse you can or just say no – you don’t have to explain yourself.
If they force you, ‘accidentally’ leave it behind when you go. It’s cheeky but it works.
The most important thing is not to panic. It’s just one day, 2 or 3 days max – enjoy them guilt-free. A few days of eating outside you usual healthy diet isn’t going to undo you as long as you get back to normal eating as soon as possible.
I hope you found this post useful & if you have any great tips or advice to share, please leave your comments & links below. I’d love to hear from you.
Would personalised one-on-one consultations with me help empower you to stay healthy over the holiday period. Do you need more general help with your diet, lifestyle &/or weight? If the answer is yes check out my 1:1 consultations or packages. I’d love to help.
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Thank you so much for joining me for this post.