Christmas is synonymous with feasting, eating well, overindulging. The rich food of Christmas accompanied by the alcohol and sweet drinks that sum up Christmas to many add up to a recipe for indigestion and heartburn.
In the olden days, of course, this feasting was necessary: a way to make use of the lifestock that needed to be removed to preserve enough winter fodder for the rest of the herd, plus also having a proper, days-long feast is a good idea mid-winter, when the sky is dark and the weather is often bad and it seems like life itself has come to an end. The problem nowadays is that feasting, as in eating more calories than we reasonably need to keep working, has become more common in a world where humans have central heating, sedentary lifestyles and an excess of food cheaply available to us at all times rather than just at harvests and feastings.
There are two ways to deal with overeating at Christmas time: either spread your indulgences out over the month so that your digestive tract is never placed under immense strain, or cut back on your usual diet beforehand so that your body is ready or able to cope with a feast and you, indeed, will feel feasted on much less food. Eat, but eat sensibly, in other words.
Both systems work, it’s a question of whether you’re a little and often person or prefer a massive blowout. Which ever, making sure that the food that fits around and below your Christmas indulgences is healthy and balanced will mean that the layer of Christmas food you put on top is a proper treat, and not more of the same eaten just because it’s Christmas.
How to do this? Be sensible, prioritise the food you like and adapt your usual Christmas treats to be more user-friendly:
- What are your favourite Christmas treats? Think carefully about the ones you really enjoy, that make your mouth water and that sum up Christmas to you. I like chocolate gingers, so a quality box of those will make my season bright.
- When do you prefer to eat them? Do you like them as part of meals, or would you prefer to make more of an occasion of them, enjoying them between meals or as part of an evening’s entertainment? Some people cannot snack, their mind won’t let them. Having a small slice of cheese as a dessert makes more sense to them than coming back later for a full plate of cheese as a late night snack.
- Make everyday meals as healthy as possible. Bump up the amount of vegetables you eat, concentrate on healthy stir fries, soups or vegetable rich casseroles. Save rich sauces for the special occasions.
- Have healthy treats around the house. Fruit, in many different forms, can be a life saver. Oranges, satsumas, grapes, berries in fresh or frozen form. Use raw veg as the vehicle for dips, rather than potato chips, and limit sugar and fat intake.
- Eat mindfully, not mindlessly. Don’t put all the chips from a bag out at once, but have a small bowlful that you nibble delicately at. Likewise, create a ritual around eating the Christmas chocolates. Select three or four a night, place them on a dish especially for you and enjoy every little bite.
- Adapt your favourite snacks to fit your favourite diet. Do you count calories? Make sure you count all your snacks, then. Eating low fat? Look up recipes for low fat treats to eat. Paleo or low carb? Then almond flour and stevia may be your route to creating treats that taste good enough.
As the quote for today says, perhaps the time to worry about eating well at Christmas is New Year’s Day.
Daily Reading: 6 Ways to Eat Healthily at Christmas.
Daily Book: The Headspace Guide to MIndful Eating by Andy Puddicombe. Sometimes at Christmas it’s not what you eat so much as how you eat it that adds up to the post-Christmas bulge. Why not stop that happening by making sure that even as you enjoy the treats that surround you during this season, you really enjoy them, and stop when you’ve had enough. It even covers how to eat chocolate and doughnuts safely, and a nutrition plan to set up sensible, balanced eating as you go.
Self Care Act for Today: Take a few moments to choose your favourite Christmas treats and make a commitment to yourself to eat them mindfully. It could be a satsuma, a bunch of grapes, a few chocolates or a ginger biscuit. Set about finding a ritual way to eat them: served nicely on a plate, with a drink and a serviette, sat at the table or snuggled on the settee. This is your treat for yourself and you are going to savour every sight, smell, touch, taste and sound of this food.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.
Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.