Ask a Dietitian: Should I Treat Myself During the Festive Season?

‘Tis the season for celebrations with our colleagues and loved ones. For many of us this involves eating lots of delicious food and drinking more than we usually would. But the real question is, should this celebration come with food guilt? Or should we treat ourselves and worry about the calories later?  

Eating during the festive season doesn’t need to be stressful or overwhelming. However, this can be the case for many of us, especially if we are on a weight loss or health journey. When it comes to treating yourself this Christmas, it's important to allow yourself to enjoy the food you love!

A great way to truly enjoy your food this festive season is to practice something called mindful eating. This is a great way to think about how much and what you are going to eat. So, how do you do it? It’s as simple as taking a second to think about how hungry, or full, you are before you start eating. This allows you to listen to your internal hunger cues. It not only prevents that sick feeling after over-eating that we all know too well, but it can also help you to enjoy the food you are eating.

Another great way to practice mindful eating this season is to take the time to enjoy the food you are eating. Put down your cutlery between mouthfuls and really take the time to consider the taste, smell and texture of the food. Not only is this a great way to satisfy your tastebuds, but you may just find that you only need one slice of Christmas pudding to feel content and satisfied.

Whilst we should be enjoying this special time with our friends and family, don’t let your good habits go out the window! Instead of thinking about what to avoid, enjoy the food you love and think about what else you can add to your day. This could include:

Trying to stay active in ways that you enjoy

This doesn’t mean you need to go to the gym five days a week. Instead try walking instead of driving to get a coffee or go for a walk with friends instead of sitting down for lunch.

Eating plenty of vegetables in the meals you are eating at home

Festive meals tend to be lacking on the vegetable front. When you are eating at home, try to make these meals nutritious and packed full of vegetables. Not only are vegetables full of important nutrients, they also tend to be lower in calories!

Drinking plenty of water

We should be aiming for a minimum of 2L of water every day, but especially over the Christmas period! Keeping up your water intake is essential to keep your body and brain functioning at their best.

Cutting yourself some slack

The Christmas period is a time for celebrations and only happens once per year. Allow yourself to enjoy this time while maintaining your healthy habits wherever you can, and you will be in for a real treat. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about making sustainable changes - you can have your cake and eat it too!

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

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