Christmas is for enjoyment (not guilt!)

Tis’ the season to be jolly, and for some this may be associated with a fear of “falling off the wagon” with health and well-being goals.. but it shouldn’t be this way.
Christmas is a time for spending time with family and loved ones, cemented around the social context of food, with a day of feasting and a week of leftovers. It is a time to be enjoyed, and not a time to be stressed and guilty about food intakes (not that there is ever a time for this!).

This is where a change of mindset can be helpful… there is no such thing as ‘good’ foods, and ‘bad’ foods, rather those that help our bodies to thrive that we need more of, and those that provide other benefits such as happiness and satisfaction that we enjoy in moderation. It is what we put into our bodies most of the time that matters, so a bit of indulgence over the Christmas period is not a cause for stress or concern.. in fact, it should be the opposite!

Around this festive period, I truly believe it is not what we are eating (because ham and pavlova are freaking amazing!), but how we are eating that can be a problem for some. For many of us the temptation of so much delicious food can switch of our natural appetite regulators and intakes soar, particularly if we have been depriving ourselves of particular foods over the year. This is the type of eating pattern that can lead to regrets later – full uncomfortable tummies, triggering of digestive issues, self-disappointment at perceived lack of control, and often a lack of true enjoyment at the time of eating.

So how do we avoid this? This is where mindfulness comes in. There is movement in the field of nutrition away from rigid diet plans and towards re-learning natural appetite regulation and intuition around food. This non-diet approach is a sustainable lifestyle approach, and in my opinion, much better for life enjoyment and mental health.

Here are some tips to implement a mindful approach over the holiday period:

- Be kind to yourself. Your body is wonderful because it is yours. The shape or size of your body does not dictate who you are as a person or your self-worth.

- Be kind to your body. We all know the foods that the body needs to function well. Look after your body by providing it with plenty of the foods it needs, after all, it’s the only body you’ve got!

- Focus on your goals- these are the things that you want, that you are doing for you! I find that having goals centred around health and well-being rather than weight can be beneficial for creating a more positive mindset, and stopping the weight associated guilt cycle.

- Eat slowly – take the time to enjoy each mouthful savouring the taste and being aware of your satisfaction from this food. It can be helpful to place cutlery down between each mouthful to avoid habitual shovelling in of another mouthful as soon as current mouthful is halfway down the oesophagus. Remember – it can take 20 minutes for the stomach to realise that it’s had enough.

Amanda Whitford

Amanda is our Registered Dietitian at the Remuera branch of Results Nutrition Centre. She has a passion for all things health and wellness and a special interest in the nutritional management of gastrointestinal conditions.

Read more about Amanda here