It’s that time of year again. Christmas decorations up way too early, jumbo-sized boxes of chocolate and biscuits in the shops, and Chris Reas “Driving home for Christmas” on repeat on every radio station and playlist everywhere.
It’s also the time when you start to see the “how to survive Christmas” posts on social media. Like it’s a time to just get through and move on from and not one to enjoy spending time with friends and family (though to be fair, some would argue that is a task to be survived…) and enjoy some great meals and socialising.
It is not a battle.
The festive period can be pretty stressful, with financial, family and other pressures building, it seems crazy to throw more stress on top of it all around the foods you choose to eat. But with a few simple habits, you can take the stress out of Christmas eating and hit January still on track for your goals.
The main point to remember
The thing with the Christmas and New Year period is you need to remember that it’s just 2 days. That’s right, it’s not a 4 week long feeding extravaganza. So if you treat most of the days between now and 2020 as normal, you can afford to indulge a bit more now and again with no major negative consequences.
Even adding in a work night out (or 2), maybe a couple of meals with friends, and crushing the rest of the cheese board and leftovers on Boxing day, you’re not going to see the typical 2-3kg increase in weight that is common around this time of year. This means you are more or less the same at the start of January as you were at the start of December. And that my friends, is a big win, putting you far ahead of the rest of the Western world.
Tip number 1 – eat like you would the rest of the year for 80% of the time over the festive period, and allow a few indulgences on meals out with family and friends. For the remaining 3 weeks of the year, that works out as about 16 meals out of the next 21, assuming you typically have 3 meals a day. 5 meals isn’t going to derail anyones progress.
Berardi’s first law
Don’t worry, this isn’t about to become a physics lecture…
John Berardi of Precision Nutrition stated, “If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it.” And this certainly holds true at Christmas. How often throughout the year do you even see a mince pie? But at Christmas we stock up on them like they’re essential eating. And if they, or any other food you don’t normally eat is there, you will eventually eat it.
The trick here is not to never have a mince pie, or glass of mulled wine, or chunk of panettone ever again, but to remember that these are indulgences to enjoy now and again, not to have every single day for a month.
Tip number 2 – Make indulgent foods a little harder to get. Don’t keep these foods in the house all the time. If you want them, or are have friends coming round and want to put out some tastys, go get them for that occasion and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Don’t beat yourself up for enjoying good food
You do not have to earn your Christmas dinner. Or your works Christmas celebration or your catch up mulled wine and mince pie with friends. Nor do you need to beat yourself up for enjoying these foodie moments. Remember point 1 above, it’s only 5 or 6 occasions that you’ll likely have the opportunity to indulge, and if you treat the rest of the time more or less like normal, those 5 meals are not going to ruin any progress you’ve made.
Tip number 3 – you don’t need to feel guilt or shame about your food choices. Nor do you need to earn your food.
If you treat this time of year the same as the other 11 and a half months of the year, then a few awesome meals with family and friends won’t have any negative impacts on your fat loss progress. Remember that to gain a couple of kilos of fat (not weight) you need to create a surplus of 15400kcals and that is unlikely to happen in a handful of meals… though it is a little more likely if you add a few treats each and every day for 2 weeks.
Eat normally most of the time, have a plan, and enjoy the festivities!