Christmas comes once per year. That’s reason enough to treat yourself to delicious foods that you normally wouldn’t. But unfortunately, many of us are so preoccupied with trying NOT to pack on the weight during the holiday season that we forget to truly enjoy ourselves.
In fact, research shows that much of our worry is self-induced for no real good reason. One study showed that while most people estimate they have gained 5 pounds over the holiday season, they really only gain about 0.37 kg.
Remember What Christmas is All About
Instead of shaming yourself this Christmas season for indulging in delicious food, try remembering what Christmas is all about: being thankful, celebrating the birth of Christ, cooking and eating together with loved ones, and giving of yourself.
Seeing family that you only see once per year is special. Make the most of that time by putting aside the things that you worry about every other day of the year, like your weight. Concentrate on being happy and you’ll likely surprise yourself with how petty it is to worry about how much you ate.
Instead, try focusing on catching up with all of your loved ones that you haven’t seen in awhile. Find out what’s new in their life and share with them what you’re going through as well. You’ll end up establishing better relationships and will spend less time worrying about food.
Practice Balance during the Holiday Season
Life is about balance. That certainly doesn’t change during the holiday season. What should change is your mentality. How often do you allow yourself to share a meal with a group of loved ones that you haven’t seen in a while? Probably not often.
For that reason, try adjusting your goals for this special occasion. Christmas dinner is not the time or place to be harsh on yourself. Taking a bite or two of every dish whether it’s healthy or not will likely make your relatives happy. They want to see you enjoy yourself.
Remember the saying, “Be in the moment", that’s truly the only thing you should be telling yourself at Christmas dinner.
Christmas Dinner Tips
Here are a few tips for enjoying yourself at Christmas dinner:
- Chew slowly. If you give yourself a pass to eat decadently one time per year, don’t waste it. Enjoy every single flavor in that one bite. You may even want to count how many flavors you detect in each mouthful. Think of it as tasting your food instead of chewing it.
- Remember that you fill up quickly. Christmas dinner is never rushed. Your loved ones will likely spend more time talking than eating. Use this as an opportunity to let your stomach play catch up. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the brain to realize your stomach is full. Take a bite of food, a sip of wine, do a little bit of chatting and you’re full!
- Treat yourself. We all have foods that we don’t normally eat but want to. If those foods are present at the Christmas dinner table, go for it. But do so mindfully. If not, you may spend the rest of the entire year wishing you had at least tasted your mum's homemade trifle!
- Listen to your body the days following Christmas dinner. Don’t panic if you went overboard. Your body is smart. If you overeat at Christmas dinner, your body will simply request less food the next few days. The trick is learning how to listen. The days following Christmas dinner, ask yourself if you’re really hungry before each meal or just bored.
Keep the Traditions Alive
Christmas is a time for family traditions. Do you remember the way you felt driving to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve when you were a kid? Chances are you still feel that way or you will when you taste grandma’s homemade cake!
Food is more than just a sum of its calories. It can be a special way to develop memories with loved ones. If we think of food as a gift we give ourselves and others it becomes nourishing for the mind and body. Christmas time should be rich in many things- food, family, friends, and memories. If you focus on limiting or restricting one of those things, you run the risk of ruining them all.
Make it Count
While you shouldn’t throw all the rules to the curb on Christmas, it’s important to spend some time enjoying yourself. Restricting your eating on one of the best holidays of the year will only make you miserable. If you put limits on how much food you can eat or what foods are off limits, it’s very likely that you will walk around looking like a Grinch. But if you focus on savoring every bite of food and every sip of beverage, you will enjoy yourself so much more.