Every year someone asks me how they can avoid overeating during the festive season. I could give them a yarn about only making one or two desserts for Christmas, instead of five, as the more varieties of food on offer, the more you’re likely to eat… But I think giving answers like that, even if they’re technically true, actually miss the point.
The way I see it, why are we so concerned about a couple days of the year? Doesn’t the rest of the year matter more? Eating more than normal and feeding the kids chocolate for breakfast on Christmas day isn’t really that big of a deal. It’s just one day. One special day, come to that. If that was every day, it would a totally different story.
Perhaps instead of stressing out over trying to hold ourselves to some kind of near-impossible self-control standards when it comes to Christmas lunch, we could all just chill out a bit.
In saying that, maybe we could all just chill a bit more when it comes to making Christmas lunch, too. It’s rather stressful to make five different desserts for one meal, after all! A slightly less impressive spread means we can get out of the kitchen earlier and enjoy time with our loved ones. Combine that with permission to eat anything and everything we want and not feel guilty about it and you get a much happier occasion.
Tips for alcohol, you ask? I clearly (or rather, not so clearly) remember the first Christmas I spent with my in-laws. I’ve never been much of a drinker but I happily enjoyed my first champagne breakfast… I think my glass may have been re-filled and well, that was me gone. It was slightly mortifying to be drunk at breakfast with my in-laws, although my partner found it hilarious. Since that fateful day many years ago, I have just politely declined and stuck to water or juice.
If you want to cut back, you can alternate with non-alcoholic drinks, and drink some water first so you’re not as thirsty. If you’re like me and you’re just not keen at all, say so. It might be different in other families and friend groups, but I’ve never struck any kind of bullying or pressure when I’ve said that I don’t want to drink. If that’s something you want to do, too, I sure hope you receive a supportive atmosphere as well. It can help to let hosts know in advance and take your own non-alcoholic drinks with you.
In saying that, if you’re keen to get on it with your in-laws, that’s totally up to you. Again, give yourself a pass for the day (just be safe) and focus on the rest of the year instead. If you’re out every weekend, or you’re having several glasses of wine with dinner each night, that’s a different story. If you think alcohol is an issue for you, your general practice team are a good starting point. Talk to them about your concerns and they’ll help you come up with a workable plan.
The sum up: stop stressing about one special occasion. It’s not good for our health and wellbeing to put so much pressure on ourselves over just one or two days. Let’s put our energy into our everyday health and wellbeing instead: filling up on mainly good quality food, getting enough good quality sleep, being active, managing stress, getting outside, etc. Relax and have a wonderful holiday season!