Written by Talia Cecchele
The Grinch Diet is the name I came up with last year for all the diet messages spread at Christmas. You know the ones. Advising us to count calories or macros, be in a calorie deficit in the lead up to Christmas Day so we don't feel guilty over-eating, drinking low-calorie alcohol, ditching dessert or explaining that each mouthful of pudding equates to 5 minutes on the treadmill. What a way to destroy the true meaning and enjoyment of Christmas!
For me, Christmas is about spending time with loved-ones. Catching up over delicious food, watching a movie while digesting said feast and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine (yep I'll be back for a Summer Christmas this year). Yes, you might over-eat for a few of days but that's it. A FEW days. And you know something really amazing. If you go back to your normal routine a few days later your body adjusts. Your metabolism increases, your body temperature rises and your appetite reduces in an effort to use that additional festive energy and keep you within a healthy weight range for you.
So here's my thoughts on how to Ditch the Grinch this Christmas:
No thank you. Own your health over the Christmas period. If someone offers you food that you don't want, learn to say "no thank you." You know your body better than anyone else. If you want more have some, if you don't then don't. Don't be afraid to listen to those internal fullness cues.
Be prepared. If Christmas brings with it a whole bunch of anxiety and stress, planning ahead is really important. Know what you are going to be doing and when. Don't be shy to ask what food will be available. Eating foods that don't agree with you or foods that cause your anxiety to sky-rocket will probably make those negative thoughts creep in. If you need to contribute a dish you will feel safe with then that's okay.
Don't skip to compensate. We know that under-eating leads to deprivation and preoccupation with food. This increases the risk of over-eating, binge eating and weight gain. Stick to your regular pattern of eating as much as possible.
Ditch the diet talk. Calories, fad diets and weight loss are often a hot topic at the Christmas table. Try not to feed in to the diet culture talk or compare yourself to others.
Drink up. Hydration is just as important as any other time of year. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, poor concentration and over-eating (as we can misjudge thirst for hunger). Be selective about which festivities might involve alcohol and if you do drink, remember to have plenty of water too.
Eat balanced. Yes, it's normal to indulge at Christmas, but don't forget the basics of nutrition. There is no reason to ditch your balanced plate at Christmas. Having a poor quality diet with little fruits or veggies can really impact your energy levels and mood.
Get outside. Exercise is so important to help with digestion and for mood regulation, stress and anxiety management. Go for a walk, a game of cricket, make a snowman (if you are lucky enough to have snow). Focus on enjoyment rather than calories or steps.
Have a chat. If you are feeling alone, over-whelmed, anxious or stressed, reach out. If you read something silly, ask someone for reassurance and advice.
Ditch the Grinch. Nourish yourself. Be kind.
Talia is a registered dietitian working in private practice and as an eating disorder specialist dietitian in London's leading private mental health hospital. As a freelance dietitian, Talia not only offers 1:1 consultations but can present at your workplace, create recipes or articles or host a cooking demonstration. To enquire please fill out a contact form.