Gaining weight over Christmas is common and I think part of the problem is that ‘Christmas’ starts sometime in November. The extended festive period gives us ample opportunity to indulge and whilst it falls under the umbrella of ‘Christmas’ it’s out of our hands, right?

For many it is often approached with a certain inevitability that one will be starting the New Year heavier than before. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends and family and relax after a busy year and the indulgence that goes along with this is both delicious and completely understandable.

However, how would we feel if we indulged and enjoyed but didn’t feel quite so ‘weighed down’ come Jan 2nd? Is it the thoughts in our head, rather than our actions that ultimately lead to the outcome we predicted? The ‘what the heck’ effect is very powerful at this time of year and less favourable food decisions can snowball.

We are complex creatures. If we look at the science of our behaviour – there are some really small things we can do to help ease the calorie load of the festive period whilst still enjoying all it has to offer.

Top tips for coping with the Christmas buffet.

  • Research into leaner people finds they have different behaviours to those that are more overweight. For example, they are less likely to sit facing the food – if you do your brain is more likely to be picking up all sorts of EAT ME, EAT ME messages which will be hard to ignore.
  • They sit further away from the food which again reduces their cues to eat.
  • The buffet is not there as a bush tucker trial – you do not have to include something from every dish. Instead, survey the scene before hand and pick out what really appeals.
  • Try to choose a smaller plate – and remember you’re not building a mole hill.

Top tips for the Christmas drinks party.

  • Ask for your drink in a tall, thin glass. Research shows you’ll drink less if it’s presented in this way.
  • Insist you finish your glass first before it’s topped up so you can keep a bit more of a track on how much you’ve had.
  • Talk to really boring people. We need to maintain mindfulness when we eat – excited chatter means you’re caught up in the fun paying less attention to what you’re eating. Enjoy every morsel of the canape created just for you and allow your brain to register its yumminess.
  • Have a really healthy lunch before hand – when we eat well we’re more inclined to want to keep this going. I know you’re probably scoffing at this but healthy does breed healthy according to behavioural scientists. If you think Christmas cancels this out, then think of the benefits of regulated blood sugar levels to prevent diving into the peanut bowl on arrival.

Top tips for Christmas day.

Ironically Christmas dinner can be one of the healthiest meals eaten together as a family; with lean turkey, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruity pudding for dessert. Much of our expanding January waist line is down to the permission we give ourselves to keep going even when we know we’re full and the influence of others around us. Fab, Uncle Albert is having a 4th mince pie that means I can too! Why not tell Uncle Albert to have a doze and get out the satsumas instead.

No healthy eating plan should be about perfection – but neither should the Christmas flood gates leave you feeling powerless. There are small things you can do which make a big difference, keeping you positive and looking ahead to 2018 with confidence!

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