I ate too much at Christmas
Every year as a dieter I would say ‘I ate too much at Christmas’. That line would be full of guilt and shame, like I’d done something wrong, like I had something to apologise for. But no more. As an intuitive eater that’s not the case. That doesn’t mean I ate as a perfect intuitive eater, oh no.
Let me talk you through my Christmas eating.
Oh the Christmas food! Sooo much of it. Here I am, on Boxing Day, looking back at what I can only describe as yesterday’s feast.
Christmas lunch for our house is an occasion. We don’t hold back. Starters, mains, desserts, the lot. My husband and I take it in turns to cook Christmas lunch, and this year it was his turn. I took charge of the table decor, and making sure people had drinks etc in hand.
For me, the starters that I enjoy are things like pate, camembert, stuffed potato skins, that sort of thing. Don’t bother giving me a glass of fruit juice, or a slice of melon. I want FOOD! And don’t forget a glass of something bubbly. My starter of choice this year was pate.
Now the problem here is that I fill up on the bread aspect because I love it so much, which leaves me less room for the main course. This year though I had learnt my lesson from previous years, and restrained myself. I had enough, but not too much.
Then on to the main event – the roast dinner. We’ve never been able to cook a sensible amount of food in our house, and this was no different.
The table was full of dishes. Meats (turkey and beef), pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, parsnips, swede, carrots, sprouts (obviously!), cauliflower cheese, stuffing, yorkshire puddings, gravies, sauces.
It was all there, and I piled my plate high.
I ate and ate, and when I could barely fit any more food in I stopped. There was still food on my plate. Were ‘my eyes bigger than my belly’ when loading that plate up? Yep. Did I eat intuitively? Nope. Was it ok? Absolutely.
Why? Because the food was beautiful, but more than that, we ate, we chatted, we laughed and told stupid Christmas cracker jokes. We made memories, and the mountain of food and feeling stuffed was a part of that.
I was the only one to put a paper hat on – don’t know what was wrong with the rest of them. It’s the law that you have to wear your hat out of the cracker isn’t it??
We all ate so much that we didn’t eat anything else until 9pm! That’s when we had pudding. Chocolate gateau, white chocolate and berries cheesecake, squirty cream (bloody love that stuff).
I had even made the Nutella Christmas tree that is doing the rounds on social media this year. Have you seen that? The recipe is here if you want to have a go yourself.
There were more puddings to hand if anyone wanted them, but those were enough. We weren’t hungry, but we did want the sweet stuff, along with some other snacks for those without a sweet tooth.
Add into the mix all the alcohol for the day, and we’d all definitely followed the instruction to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. You can see why it would be very easy for me to say ‘I ate too much at Christmas’.
There's Christmas food everywhere
Now today, looking around, there’s still an abundance of food in the house. All the leftovers from lunch yesterday, food we’d bought for the evening and never eaten because we were still full from lunch, chocolates from stockings and gifts, and cheese… all the cheese!
This is the point where many people start to panic.
Christmas Day is over and there’s still all this food around. Those thoughts start to creep in – ‘What do I do with it all?’, ‘I can’t keep eating it because Christmas is over’, or even ‘I need to keep eating it all because once the new year is here I’m being healthy’.
Whichever way you look at those thoughts, they all result in restriction. Restriction because you’re going to stop eating the food now. Or the opposite – you’re going to binge and eat it all now because once new year comes you’ll be restricting and not eating it any more.
Neither line of thinking allows for intuitive eating. It doesn’t allow you to eat food because you’d enjoy it or be satisfied by it.
If you’re bingeing to get the food gone, are you paying attention to whether or not you’re enjoying the food, or are you eating as much as you can mindlessly to shorten the discomfort of eating food you think of as ‘bad’?
If you’re going to stop eating the food now, full stop, job done, are you paying attention to what your body is asking for? What if some of what would satisfy your mind and your body is actually some of that food you have reserved just for Christmas Day?
Christmas food is available all year round
It’s special isn’t it, the food at Christmas? Food plays such a big part in the Christmas festivities, and the run up to Christmas, but if we put it into perspective we actually realise that it isn’t that special.
We don’t need to put this food up onto a pedestal and make it something we eat just once a year.
Chocolate is available all year round. There are some chocolates that are typically Christmas themed, like the chocolate orange, and tins of quality street, but they’re actually in the shops most of the year.
Your puddings are available all year round. Gateau, cheesecake, chocolate logs, cherry bakewell pie, strudels. They’re all there in the freezer aisle, all year. And if they’re not, you (or someone you know) can make one should you fancy it.
The pate, camembert, turkey, beef, roasties, veg, yorkshires, gravy, dips….. all there, all year round.
It’s just that we associate it with one time of year, and so we eat more of it than we’re comfortable with and then after we feel like we need to make up for it, eat more healthily, eat less, exercise more.
We could just eat these things intuitively throughout the year though, and then it removes most of these feelings.
I felt so much less of all of those guilt based feelings this year, because I know better now. I’ve practised my intuitive eating for a while now, and I truly believe that I have unconditional permission to eat all of those things all year round. Not just for a couple of days a year.
Lesson's I've learnt that help with christmas food
Here are the lessons I’ve learnt and adopted that have made the difference year on year.
Eating a reasonable amount of starter means I can enjoy my main meal. This isn’t me restricting, it’s me eating intuitively, with my head, allowing myself to have some of what I enjoy and still leave room for the main, which I know I’ll also enjoy.
There are times when it’s ok to not take a sensible amount of food and to not eat intuitively.
I can pile my plate high and eat food without feeling guilty or gluttonous. I know that there is an unusually high availability of food at this time of year, and I have permission to enjoy it all if I want to. There’s no shame in eating some of everything if I want to.
It’s ok to leave food on my plate. I may have piled that plate up with food, but I can still eat intuitively and stop when I’m ready. Again, I can do this with no guilt.
I know that food waste isn’t something to be taken lightly, but this time of year really is unusual so I won’t beat myself up over it when the rest of the year I am considerate about this.
It’s ok to eat at any time of day. Eating at set times of day are rules set by someone and don’t take into consideration my own appetite, wants, and needs. So if I want to eat pudding at 9pm, because I fancy something sweet, I will.
Exercise, alcohol and food are not interchangeable. I can eat food and drink alcohol, without restricting one in order to have the other, and without having to earn the calories by exercising.
Food is like dogs – not just for Christmas. There is no difference between 31st December and 1st January. Eating habits do not have to change, and ‘bad’ foods do not have to be banished, just because a new year is here.
Please know that it’s ok if you feel like you went overboard yesterday. It’s absolutely normal. Now is not the time to say ‘I ate too much at Christmas’.
Now is the time to practise compassion for yourself, be kind to yourself in your thoughts and behaviours, and know you have done nothing wrong.
ignore the 'new year, new me' messages
I know that the ‘new year new me’ dieting messages are going to be everywhere now. There will be diet plans in magazines, adverts on TV, and influencers selling their weight loss products on social media.
But be strong. Don’t let them make you feel bad for your food and drink consumption over the Christmas period, and don’t let them think that you need to make yourself ‘better’ or ‘healthier’ now.
Those diets you do each year just don’t work long term, because if they did you would be happy with your body, you wouldn’t be feeling guilty now, and you wouldn’t be looking for yet another diet this January.
So, let me help you break the cycle and understand this a little bit better. Don’t diet this year. Instead, come and join my new year free 7 day challenge instead. All the details are here for you.
Go on, register now, and I’ll see you in there for a much better, happier, positive start to the new year.