So you might put on some timber this Christmas… Don’t stress about it, says Ben Coomber:
This Christmas we will all lose count of how many articles and social media posts we’ll see on how to avoid getting fat this holiday season. Say no to the chocolates, drink green tea because it’ll burn fat, go for a long walk, swap a roast potato for a carrot… All sorts of advice will get thrown around with nutritional tips and tricks, but can we get real for a moment?
Why is Christmas such a big weight-gain deal, seriously?
I ask because my Christmas is fun and enjoyable, and there is plenty of food and drink involved, but it’s only really around four-five days of indulgence. Let’s be practical; you’ve got the staff party, you’ve got Christmas drinks with maybe two different friend groups, you’ve got Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. Some will have more, some will have less, so let’s call it seven occasions, tops.
Why is this important?
It’s important because everyone seems to need some magic strategy to not gain weight over Christmas. Yes, the simple fact is that if you eat a lot of food and don’t do a lot of movement you’re going to put on a bit of weight, there’s no way of getting around that. The problem is that people then use this for is an excuse to eat whatever they want, when they want, from around the first Christmas party until 3 January – that’s maybe three weeks of free-for-all eating.
If that’s you, if you’re the three-week Christmas binger, what does that say about your love for your body? Sure, there are always occasions where you’re going to eat a bit more, let your hair down, have some fun. But as a rational adult, why should it be an excuse or free pass to go Hail Mary on your body and eat whatever, whenever?
Over Christmas, I accept that over the course of a few days I’ll put on a few lbs, but I know it’s coming, I know I’m going to enjoy it with ZERO guilt, thus, I shouldn’t get worried about it.
And guess what I’m going to do after? Nope, I’m not going to cry into my avocado and toast with rife guilt. The week after, I’ll simply eat a little less and dial things back in. That doesn’t mean I go on a magic juice diet and starve myself for a week, or start some super restrictive diet again, it just means I behave like an adult. I see the environment coming, make a plan, embrace the occasion, and deal with it when it’s over.
Don’t get me wrong, I will employ a few strategies to minimise the damage. So, in the times when I’m going to eat a bit more than normal, I’ll do these key things:
Have a lighter breakfast to save some calories for later.
Ignore all the little things that can add up, like peanuts and chocolates, that’s just a ton of mindless eating just because it’s Christmas and it’s there sitting on the side board. I’m all about the main event, the roast!.
Get outside and go for long walks to keep my activity as high as possible, plus it’s a great way to catch up with family and talk, especially if it’s a nice cold, crisp day.
Keep going to the gym/doing some training (unless I feel I want to rest and have a break), to keep the energy burning and to minimise the damage.
Keep a lid on the alcohol. I only ever have two-four drinks otherwise I feel tired the next day, and I hate feeling tired. I like to feel ALIVE all the time, and feeling like poop only leads you to move less and eat more the next day, so I simply say no after a few drinks. Too few know how to say no, ignore the whims of others, let them drink if they want to, if you don’t want to drink, simply say no.
So yes, employ a few tricks to minimise the weight gain over Christmas, but also be realistic about it. Embrace it, and enjoy it with zero guilt. Christmas is not a month of binge eating, it’s five-eight days of greater indulgence than normal. Don’t hoover up all the chocolates at breakfast on
29 December just because they’re there. Throw them in the bin, box them up for a re-gift, take them out of sight, or give them to your neighbour; value your body and your weight, be an adult about your health and your diet this Christmas.