Ditch the food guilt this Christmas
Living with guilt around your food choices is not motivating
Lite n’ Easy dietitian, Melissa Holloway shares her best tips on how to avoid the food guilt these holidays. And how accepting and enjoying the foods you love may help you to slow down this Christmas, without going overboard.
We can all agree it has been a tough year. Very tough. After bush fires, floods, and a pandemic that has caused a total rearrangement of our lives, many of us will be looking forward to unwinding over the Christmas period. But there may some of you who are a little worried about how to approach food on the big day (or big week, as it may be). Whether you’re worried that you’ll eat too much and gain weight, or that you’ll have to completely miss out on all the traditional fare, all I can say is: don’t. Please. We’ve had enough worry for the year, and guilt never gets us far.
Being on a health journey doesn’t mean you need to avoid particular foods while others happily indulge, or that you should feel guilty about your food choices. Guilt is a terrible motivator. Time to let it go!
Worried about gaining weight this Christmas?
Eating well for your health is so much more than one meal. Or one day’s meals. Or even one week’s meals. The wonderful thing about energy and weight balance is that as soon as you go back to eating your regular foods and doing activity, things will start to rebalance again.
Choosing to let it go and feel at ease about indulgences at Christmas might be all you need to feel satisfied early on, and feel comfortable to shift back into regular eating patterns sooner.
Choose feeling good over feeling guilt
Worry can make you miss the moment
This is what mindful eating is about. We worry ourselves so much about eating a ‘bad food’ that the experience of actually eating it barely registers. Removing guilt or worry from eating allows you to focus on actually enjoying the food, taking your time with it and feeling truly satisfied.
Choose activities that put you in a good mood
Feeling in a great mood and excited for the day ahead might keep you from feeling worried at all. Doing something active in the morning, be it a walk, a swim, or a session that makes you sweat to release those feel-good hormones will boost your mood and make you feel great for the day ahead. Morning is best, because once the Christmas chaos begins, it can be hard to do anything later in the day.
Planning ahead can also help you to feel relaxed and ready to take on whatever the chaos of Christmas day can throw at you.
Do the guilt-pangs set in by having those delicious foods you so love?
Plan to eat the things you really want to. There’s guaranteed to be more than one food to enjoy, so plan to have a little bit of everything. Most of all pay attention to it and enjoy it.
Is your guilt-trigger feeling overfull?
Plan to take things slowly. With so much food, it can be easy to dive in and only come up for air 30 minutes later. The food will still be there in an hour, and most likely tomorrow as well. Plan to not fill your plate(s). There is plenty of time for seconds. And thirds. But doing smaller plates at a time will allow you to focus on what you’re eating, rather than simply working your way through a delicious food mountain.
What about once Christmas is done?
Getting back into a routine after the celebrations wind down will help you feel at ease. Make sure you have some healthy meals on hand in the freezer for when it’s all done and dusted and no one can be bothered cooking again. You’ll definitely get first prize for being the Most Organised Family Member.
Melissa Holloway is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive experience working in foodservice across a range of industries including aged care, elite sport and in hospitals. She is passionate about ensuring people have access to not only fresh and healthy food options, but also that people get to choose food that they truly enjoy. As a busy Mum, Melissa loves preparing healthy and delicious food for her family.