How many times have you heard people say “After Christmas, I’m definitely going on a diet”? At Christmas we are bombarded with food temptation – everywhere you look, everywhere you go, everywhere you turn, there’s an opportunity to see food, buy food or eat food. Boxes of chocolates, canapes, nuts, nibbles, cakes, pies, puddings, turkey or beef with all the trimmings – where will it all end? I still remember my first experience of indigestion. I was quite young – around ten or twelve – and we’d just finished our Christmas dinner. Yes, at the time I’d enjoyed the turkey and roast potatoes and Brussel sprouts and chipolatas wrapped in bacon and gravy and bread sauce and cranberry sauce and Christmas pudding and mince pies and brandy butter…but now I felt ill! Really ill! I felt so stuffed that I had to lie down to recover from stuffing myself with all that food. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, as the saying goes. I work with a lot of women who would like to get their eating and their weight back under control, so here are some of my top tips for enjoying food over Christmas, without it all getting out of hand.
It’s all about being mindful. Wait until you are actually hungry to eat. Have a glass of water first (you might actually be thirsty). If you are suddenly overcome by a craving for a particular food then you are probably not hungry, but feeling the need to do some emotional eating. Ask yourself: “What’s eating me? What emotion am I trying to stuff down?” then express that emotion in a positive way, or do something totally different. This could be something from your practical to-do list (wrapping presents, cleaning, tidying the kid’s bedrooms etc.) or something from your list of things you like to do that don’t involve eating (going for a walk, phoning a friend, reading a book, having a hot bath, listening to some uplifting music). If you really are hungry, follow these steps: unless you’re at a drinks party, always put your food on a plate and eat it sitting down, with a knife and fork or spoon (unless it’s a sandwich). Snacking while standing up or on the go will often lead to mindless overeating because you’re too distracted. When you’re choosing what to eat, think about how it will feel as it slides down into your stomach and how it will make you feel for the next few hours. Instead of piling your plate high, take a moderate portion, knowing that you can go back for more if you need to. Eat slowly, savouring every mouthful, chewing the food well and getting maximum enjoyment from every bite. Put your cutlery down between bites. The minute you stop being aware of the taste of the food, stop and ask yourself if you are actually hungry or whether you are now just eating because it’s there. Stop when you have had sufficient and before you are full. You can always have more food later, when you are hungry again. This way of eating has proved liberating for many people – it’s the way that most naturally slim people eat.
Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas Eve.
Today’s gift is a free telephone or Skype session with me, dedicated to changing the way you think about that trigger food forever. Imagine how helpful it would be if we changed that like (or love) for the out of control food to a dislike or even hatred of it? How good would it feel to remain totally in control around that food, with no desire to even taste it? To win your free session with me, fill in your name and address in the form below and tell me what food you’d like to give up, and why.