For most people, Christmas is a time for celebration, family and joy. However, the holidays can be stressful for those who are trying to lose weight – many people struggle with fears that they won’t be able to control their eating/drinking habits and their hard work to achieve a healthy body weight may unravel. These are common problems faced by our patients, and so our doctors have put together their top tips to get through the Christmas season without derailing weight loss efforts.
- Choose the functions you really want to go to.
The good news is – despite what you may have been taught to believe growing up, you don’t ACTUALLY have to go to every single function you’re invited to. You might find that as Christmas and the end of the year nears, you’ll be invited to a variety of dinners, celebratory drinks, work functions or parties. Each function presents their own opportunities for overeating and drinking, which can feel hard to avoid.
So take the time to reflect on the events you actually do really want to go to and choose those as the events to prioritise, and consider skipping the rest! You’ll find it easier to control your habits if your time isn’t overloaded with celebration functions and social events. Choose the ones that are most meaningful to you.
- Nominate one function to “loosen the reigns” for and ENJOY it
Say you’ve narrowed down your list of social events to maybe 2 or 3 that you really want to go to. You might want to nominate one of those events in advance as the one that you will loosen the reigns a little for. When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s what you do MOST of the time that counts, so it IS ok to pick one function where you might decide to go for that extra glass of wine or chocolate dessert – just decide whichever one it will be, in advance. For the other events, make the choice for yourself that you will stick to your normal routine and habits at those functions.
Practice mindfulness for whatever you indulge in – really savour the moment and enjoy it, knowing you’ve made a conscious choice.
- Plan your limits ahead of time
If you’ve given yourself permission to loosen the reigns for one function, be mindful to keep it within reason, without going crazy – so set limits for yourself. That might mean allowing yourself 2 glasses of wine over the night, with water in between, or sharing a dessert with someone. Planning your limits, so that they can be measured and easily tracked throughout the night, will help to ensure that you keep your loosened habits within a controllable range. Going entirely off the rails and binge drinking or eating will make it difficult to get back on track and will have an impact on your weight.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver
An easy way to avoid alcohol is to offer to be the designated driver for the night, so you have no choice but to avoid alcoholic drinks altogether or control your consumption without overdoing it.
- Regularly measure yourself
If you entirely put off weighing or measuring yourself over the whole Christmas break, you might find that you have more to catch up on in your weight loss journey after Christmas than you thought you would. If you regularly weigh yourself, for example every 3 days, you can keep in mind and track where your body is at, which can help to guide your eating and drinking choices over Christmas.
- Enjoy the non-food aspects of Christmas
It is important to challenge the mindset that Christmas is all about eating and drinking. Try to focus on enjoying the time spent with family and friends, the relaxation and public holidays, and the joys of gift-giving! If you can turn your attention to the non-food aspects of Christmas that make you happy, you’ll find it easier to control what you eat and you’ll enjoy the season more!
- Keep your end goal in mind
It is important to remind yourself WHY you started your weight loss journey, to motivate you in the more tempting periods like Christmas. Don’t lose sight of your end goal over the holidays – it can help motivate you to keep up your healthy habits over the break. A good way to help might be to put a message to yourself on your fridge or on your phone background, to remind yourself what your goal is and how to stay on track to reach it.
Christmas will come around every year and is a normal part of life, so unfortunately it cannot be avoided. But if you can find the strategies that work for you, you can prepare yourself every year to maintain your healthy habits for your weight loss and still find other ways to enjoy the Christmas celebrations that don’t derail your efforts.