“Christmas calories don’t count!” “Holiday weight gain doesn’t last!”
Those are just some phrases I’ve seen thrown around on social media and amongst my group of friends. Have you heard or said them too? In all honesty, I’ve laughed at a few of these and even claimed that I would be packing a few extra kilos by the time Boxing Day came around. It’s all good as it was all said in the hearty spirit of Christmas and no one meant any harm by it. But here’s the thing, it’s scary!
For anyone who has struggled with body image issues or eating disorders, you know just how daunting this time of the year can be. All of the lovely food that’s served before, during and after Christmas needs to be eaten because that’s just what you do, right? Well, what about one week later when you have to deal with the clothes that don’t fit!? How about when you go back to work or school and everyone can see the extra fluff?
I get it, I really do, but you need to calm down. This message is for anyone who is worried about the week after, the morning after, even minutes after. You are not alone!
Holiday weight gain is not the end of the world!
Create memories not food logs
For this specific period, if you will be celebrating Christmas with your family and friends, don’t count the calories. Focus instead on the memories that you are creating and the good times you are having. I know that it’s difficult to enjoy food without immediately feeling guilty afterwards but here’s the thing; one or two days of unhealthy eating will not make you fat. You would need to keep up the extra intake for a longer period to see any noticeable changes. Sure you’ll probably feel bloated the next day, but that’s something you can flush away!
Don’t restrict but be reasonable
I’m very much against restrictions unless advised by a doctor but that does not mean you should eat a whole turkey and a tub of ice cream all by yourself! If you struggle with body image issues, these special ocassions cannot derail you from your end goal. It sounds a little contradictory doesn’t it? I just told you to create moments and now I’m saying not to exaggerate? But that’s the thing – be reasonable about it!
Having a few slices of pizza with some friends is not the same as eating three pizzas alone. In my fifteen years of battling an eating disorder, I learned one valuable lesson: restrictions feed cravings. If you want to have the cake, stick to a normal portion size because it will be much easier on your body but most importantly, your mental health. Holiday weight gain can be just that if you are determined.
Get back on track as soon as possible
If you are on a healthy eating journey, working with a dietician or making your own healthy changes, you need to continue. Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends, but once the occasion passes, everyone’s lives go back to normal. You know what that means? It means that you will need to continue on your own wellness journey irrespective of what everyone else is doing. This requires significant willpower and understanding that you will need to drop the fun in the middle of consistency and not the other way around.
I personally struggle with this one more than anyone knows because it’s either I’m eating healthily or I’m not. I’ve heard there is a middle ground but it seems to have escaped me during this pandemic!
Mistakes are part of life
I used to struggle with binge eating not too long ago, so I know how hard it can be to stick to the plan. You wanted a slice and suddenly ate the whole cake… now what? The answer is simple, but hard to internalise; get over it and move on. I’ve mentioned in one post on eating disorders that they are all in your head. And I will reiterate that as many times as it takes to make it stick! If you are visiting my blog for the first time, you might find that a bit harsh, but the reality is that eating disorders are mental.
If you can overcome that little voice inside your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough, you will have a better chance of getting better. Making mistakes is also part of life, everyone makes them. It’s how you deal with them that shows character!
Speak to someone if you are struggling
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well we know that something is normal, it still hurts. If you are struggling with feelings of guilt after this holiday period, don’t hold it in. You need to speak to someone who you can trust and really listen to what they have to say. A lot of times, we notice more dramatic changes that others can’t even see. So that reassurance can help you feel better about yourself. Also remember the fun you had, the memories you created and the taste of the good food. Nothing is worth losing those moments!
Just one last friendly reminder:
Holiday weight gain is normal
If you are struggling with the way you feel after the holiday and need someone to chat to, please drop me a mail. I would love to support anyone through this period, because the support I received really helped me too!