Keep your good intentions over Christmas – it can be done

Alcohol and menopause
October 25, 2016
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Keep your good intentions over Christmas – it can be done

dinner-table

Are you becoming more anxious about how to manage your eating and drinking over the festive period and the impact it will have on your weight, hormones and long term health?

Are your worried about your self-control and ability to say ‘no thank you’?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. I’m currently visiting family and friends who live abroad, and everyone seems to want a little bit of the action ‘planning’ our days and nights. Inevitably it involves eating and drinking!

Add this to the forthcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations with family, friends and colleagues, it can be hard to keep to our good intentions and avoid the seemingly inevitable weight gain – weight gain that is increasingly difficult to get rid of.

There is no easy fix. All of the reasons why dieting is hard are multiplied over the Christmas festivities, but, you can apply some simple strategies that may not stop your worries completely but will encourage your belief that Christmas can be enjoyed.

Not all will apply to you, but I hope that some will help!

  1. First and so important. Don’t go on a crash, low calorie, low fat diet – that’s either before Christmas or after New Year to compensate of any over indulgence. This completely messes with your metabolism, creating the yo-yo diet effect and it will become harder and harder to lose weight and maintain that loss. It’s a short term fix that doesn’t pay off either in the short of long term messing with your hormones and health. Did you do it last year? Did it really work?
  1. Take each day as it comes. Don’t get anxious about events too far in advance.
  1. Each day consider what your healthiest option would be given the events planned for that day – plan where possible! e.g. If you are going to a restaurant can you check the menu in advance so you are prepared? You can already have made your choice rather than be influenced by hunger.
  1. If needs be, have a small salad or green smoothie before you go out. Stave off the hunger pangs.
  1. Decide that you won’t have any bread or anything with sugar in wherever you are going.
  1. If you’re drinking alcohol, have at least the same volume in water between each drink. Most definitely have a large glass of water when you get in or a herbal tea. If you know you are going out drink more water in the day so you’re not consuming water into an already dehydrated body.
  1. If it’s a buffet, scan the food BEFORE you start loading your plate! Then:
  • Take a smaller plate
  • Avoid any foods that are beige or brown.
  • Don’t have second helpings
  • Sit out of view of the buffet table
  1. Get yourself a buddy for when times will be tough, share your anxieties, ask for support. The Beyond Menopause Facebook page will be a solid place to turn to for ongoing support of the festive period and, well, beyond! Friends and family can also help, let them know how, share your intentions. The more you say something with intention the more likely it is to become true.
  1. Apply the Hunger Scale test. This is one of your most powerful tools.
  1. Focus on the positives of Christmas and New Year. Connecting with friends and family, the sharing of presents, have time off work, the smells, the excitement, the fun. The joy and love it can bring.

heart-biscuits

While all the above sound excellent, and I know they can work, the largest obstacle in the way of implementing any of the above needs addressing too.

Emotional eating. I truly understand how stressful this time can be, and how emotional. It can be too trying to meet your own or others expectations, mixing with family you may not particularly wish to, missing loved ones.

Emotional eating and drinking can be the largest stumbling blocks.

It’s also vitally important to consider your relationship with food in a different way. Food is necessary so your body can work optimally, and as always those nutrients/calories should be from varied ingredients supplied by nature, not those that have gone through the food processing industry in any way.

The body lets you know it needs nutrients via the sensation of hunger but controlling emotional hunger can be a little more difficult than feeding physiological hunger, and your personal emotional needs should be explored.

They are often related to self-esteem, feeling unloved, relationships, fear of loss, grief, fear of not being enough and of course pressures to conform.

When you feel ‘hungry’, just pause a while and consider are you hungry for sustenance (food) or hungry for something else (expressing an emotion). You probably have no idea what this latter hunger is, you just know you are physically full but want to eat something.

Once you begin to identify emotional needs that you meet by eating, you can begin to learn how to get them met more appropriately. Your stress levels will reduce and the pounds should begin to drop away.

Applying this approach combined with the above strategies will really help you have a better relationship with food and manage the Christmas Holiday period with much more confidence.

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