Christmas. The season to be jolly and full of good cheer. And the time of year where, on average, we consume between 6000 and 7000 calories on the 25th December alone, and gain between 1kg and 4kgs over the festive period. Worse still, statistics reveal that the majority of us who gain weight over the Christmas holidays never get around to losing all of it.
So, this year, why not try a different approach to eating and beating the Christmas bulge?
And don’t panic … I’m not going to be a killjoy and tell you to resist the mince pies and the chocolates. Or to replace that glass of champagne with a low-calorie alternative (yuk). Instead, try a new eating psychology approach to weight management where you enjoy yourself, have a good time and focus on what you can ‘add’ over the holidays rather than restricting or cutting out.
Top 5 tips to avoid the Christmas bulge this year:
+ Mindful eating. We all succumb at some point to mindless eating – reaching for another chocolate, or a handful of crisps or nuts, or a second (or even third) helping of roast dinner, without questioning whether we need it (or even want it!). Mindless eating can significantly increase our calorie consumption without us really taking notice. So, before taking another mouthful, just stop to think, and ask yourself: “If I eat this, how will I feel in an hour’s time?”, “If I eat this, will I move closer towards my (weight-loss) goals or further away?”. The answer may be just enough to help you stop eating at the point of satiety rather than the point of being stuffed to bursting.
+ Enjoy your food. Christmas can be synonymous with eating everything that’s put in front of you – even if you don’t like it! At no other time of year do we eat so much just for the sake of it. So, eat … but really enjoy the foods you love. Savour them. Take time to enjoy them. Food should be a pleasure. Don’t add unnecessary calories by eating anything you don’t actually want.
+ Movement. Over the Christmas period, do you sit in front of the television, barely moving your body apart from to get another snack or drink? Instead, why not take advantage of the limited daylight by going for a walk or cycle ride? Exercise not only burns some of those Christmas calories, but also releases feel-good chemicals which boost your mood and make you feel happier. And if it’s a sunny day that’s even better – there’s growing evidence that Vitamin D can play a part in weight loss!
+ Sleep. Over the festive period, numerous parties and late nights can lead to sleep deprivation, which is a major contributor to weight gain. Lack of sleep causes our hunger hormones to increase and our metabolism to decrease – meaning we take in more calories and burn less. So be sure to prioritise sleep – not only at Christmas, but all year round!
+ Friends. Christmas isn’t all about the food! Yes, food is often the focus, but don’t forget that Christmas is a great time for spending time with loved ones and good friends. And whilst we’re busy having fun, we’re less focused on snacking. Plus social interaction and laughter help us to create serotonin, a mood-balancing hormone that makes us feel happier. And the happier we are – the less we reach for those comfort foods.
We have created a new online programme for everyone who battles with weight and over-eating. If you’re interested in finding out more please download our FREE report “An Eating Psychologist’s guide to why diets don’t work (and what does)” on our free stuff page.
Dr Marcelle Crinean, PhD, owner and director of Brain Reframe, is a highly qualified therapist, coach and lecturer.
In her busy practice, Marcelle successfully treats sleep and stress-related issues (including insomnia, anxiety and depression) as well as disordered eating, binge-eating and undereating. She regularly holds workshops and webinars, and trains business executives across the UK and Europe in the art of sleep and stress management.