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Christmas is a magical time of the year when we get to see our families, share gifts and enjoy ourselves, but all too often Christmas is also a period of overindulgence. While some people have the opinion that one day of overeating out of 365 can’t hurt, shocking new research shows just how much people consume during the holidays, and it’s far in excess of what they should be eating.
Furthermore, this overeating has a knock-on effect, which can last well into the New Year, meaning it’s even more important not to lose sight of your goals as soon as the turkey arrives. Here, we have some ways to remind yourself of how far you’ve come, keep yourself motivated, and show you why it’s important to keep working towards your goals now and for the future.
Shocking new research into just how much we overindulge during the holidays has shown that the average person consumes twice their recommended calorie limit of 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women during this time. Around a third of those asked said that they completely let themselves go on December 25th, consuming a staggering 8,530 calories – more than triple a man’s daily limit and over four times the calorie limit for women.
Does this sound like you from Christmases Past? It could be that you hadn’t started your weight loss journey this time last year, but it’s likely you still ate more than you would have during a typical day, even before you began eating healthier. Think back to last year and what you ate, how you felt afterwards and how it affected your mood and your general well-being as you approached the New Year. No doubt it involved a lot of sitting on the couch, mindlessly eating chocolates while you watched old movies, or maybe you went to a relative’s house and were bombarded with seconds and thirds and then pudding, feeling ready to burst before you were then sent home with leftovers.
Now think about your more recent past, how hard you’ve worked to get where you are now, how good it feels to see the numbers on the scale go down. Compare the ‘lethargic you’ from Christmas Past sitting on the couch in a food coma to the ‘new you’ leaving the gym after a workout, feeling energized and uplifted for the day ahead. Do you want to repeat this Christmas past, or would you prefer to start a new tradition this year?
Maybe you started with good intentions last year, but let things slide when the day arrived, but the key is to break the habits which led to the unravelling of these good intentions. Much of the overindulgence during the holiday period comes from a combination of excess supplies of food in the house and boredom – a recipe for dieting disaster! The key to any successful weight loss plan is preparation, so make sure your Christmas Present means having a plan of attack for Christmas Day’s food fest.
If you’re celebrating at home, this means being prepared with healthier versions of family favorites plus lots of healthy options for you, so that you’re less inclined to snack when boredom or cravings kick in. Also be prepared with activities to target boredom - think about when you’re most bored and therefore likely to hit the chocolates. It will probably be after the presents and food, so schedule in a walk for the afternoon to boost your energy, burn calories and stop you from eating mindlessly. For when you’re back at home, try to get the family involved in a game of charades to keep the energy levels up, or if you do sit down to watch a movie, make sure you have some healthy options like air-popped popcorn ready for when you feel like snacking.
If you’re going to a family member’s house for Christmas dinner, you can help them be prepared by letting them know how you’re trying to eat healthier and that you’d like to continue with this during the festive season. You can’t expect them to cater to you with everything, but offer to bring some veggies so that you can make sure you fill at least half your plate with them, making less room for more calorific holiday foods. If you’re all bringing a few dishes to share, take this opportunity to make your offerings healthy ones. Bring a fruit salad with fat-free whipped cream, a tray of steamed vegetables, or healthier versions of the Christmas foods you love by choosing recipes lower in sugar, fat and calories. This way you’ll know that at least one of the dishes is diet-friendly, and if it’s your favorite food then even better!
This same research, which showed just how much we let ourselves go at Christmas, also found that the average person will put on 4lbs between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, due to their overconsumption during this period. However, many peopled surveyed reported that they take up to four months to lose the weight they put on over the festive season, which means it can take until Easter to repair the damage. Rather than being a temporary effect of too much Christmas pudding, it would seem that this period of disregard for healthy eating has serious knock-on effects as we go into the New Year. Getting off to a bad start before we even get to the new year will only damage your overall intentions for January’s less than motivating combination of resolutions, cold weather, and post-Christmas blues.
While it’s common to view the ending of the year as a cause to relax a little with the intention of starting again come the New Year, this kind of ‘the diet starts tomorrow’ thinking leads to binges and more weight-gain than we realize, due to overeating when we have the opportunity before an impending period of deprivation. Thinking that Christmas is an excuse to forget about being healthy will only delay the inevitable – that you’ll have to work even harder in January, and often just to be back where you started before Christmas.
So, if you see yourself slipping during Christmas, remember to really enjoy every mouthful and stop there - you haven’t broken your diet, you’ve just taken a detour. The most important thing is that you have successfully avoided a binge, which would have undone a lot more of your hard work than an extra helping of turkey. Even if you have a day of excess on Christmas Day, start again on Boxing Day with refreshed intentions and motivations – this is your Christmas Future, this year and forever, as being healthy is the best gift of all!
Are you ready to start your new Christmas tradition of being healthy? Let us know how you aim to keep on plan during the festive season by commenting below!