Need help avoiding the Christmas crazy?

Christmas is a time of extremes, it seems – we’re being sold gastronomic delights, whilst also being told that we need to ‘slim down’ for the Christmas party dress/suit/outfit of your choice. These conflicting messages can wreak havoc for the most of us – “gorge yourself on this festive treat” … “how to stay lean over the Christmas period” (no prizes for guessing where that article came from!) – but for some these messages can be seriously dangerous!

The holiday season shouldn’t be plagued by guilt and worry about ‘staying lean’ or ‘working off you Christmas dinner’. But trust me, I understand all too well how easy it is to be affected by these messages that surround us.

I absolutely love Christmas and all the baking and food preparation involved, but I used to stress about how much I could have, how I would look in X outfit and how I would ensure that come the New Year I hadn’t put on any weight. And who can blame me, or you, when we are practically swimming in messages telling us how we should look, which exercises are best for burning calories etc etc. This is called diet culture and this is a pretty good definition from Body Positive Australia;

Diet culture encompasses all the messages that tell us that we’re not good enough in the bodies we have, and we’d be more worthwhile and valuable if our bodies were different…Diet culture is deeply ingrained in our everyday existence and prevents us from living our most full and meaningful lives”

The concept of diet culture is a hefty discussion and not one that would fit into this article but many of the resources below talk about it in a really clear way.

 

All the crazy diet and food talk over Christmas can get you doubting yourself, and start the niggling thoughts that maybe you should do something about your body – and let’s not even get into the rubbish that comes out in the New Year!

I found that questioning what I read and saw in magazines, online and in adverts started changing the way I felt about eating and released me from some of the rules and anxieties I had picked up on. Everyone is different, so I just wanted to include some of the very small things that made a big difference for me, and started making me realise that there’s more to life than worrying about food and the way I look. These are pretty good tips for all year round if you feel like your social media etc. need a shake-up – but seeing as the messages seem to be amplified around this time of year I thought it would be a good time to write about it.

 

Unsubscribe to mailing lists for Women’s Health or other websites, magazines etc. offering constant weight loss (or ‘optimal wellness’ advice). There are so many diet-related messages that we can’t avoid seeing on billboards and in newspapers, for example, that we can’t control, but let this be your chance to take back control of your inbox!

 

For no-nonsense chat about food and nutrition the following Instagram accounts are a diet-free zone:

Laura Thomas 

Pixie Turner

Christy Harrison

Untrapped

Fiona Sutherland

Not Plant Based

(Laura, Pixie and Fiona are all doing some form of anti-diet/bullshit advent calendar on Instagram this year.)

 

I’ve started listening to some great podcasts that discuss the concepts of Health at Every Size, and non-diet approaches to health – something that I’m still learning a lot about as it’s in contrast to the ‘anti-obesity’ messages we’re constantly fed. These podcasts are particular favourites of mine at the moment:

Don’t Salt My Game

Food Psych

All Fired Up

 

And the following accounts are my favourites for spreading the body positivity message. There are a lot more accounts than I have listed here, so go explore this wonderful section of instagram for yourself! As Laura Thomas always says, diversifying your social media feeds can do wonders for the way we feel about our own bodies. Seeing people of all sizes, colours, abilities, ages and genders living happy and fulfilling lives is a breath of fresh air compared to the usual narrative that only young, white, able bodied girls are happy – and only once they’ve lost those magic 5 lbs. These can help you on your way to body acceptance and body love.

Megan Crabbe

Michelle Elman

Taryn Brumfitt

Stephanie Yeboah

F*** Your Fitspo

 

This is by no means a definitive list of accounts to follow, nor do I claim to be an expert on food anxieties or body positivity. And if you think that you or a loved one might be struggling with signs or symptoms of disordered eating please try to reach out for professional help – there are some helpful resources on the BEAT website.)

 

I hope you have a Merry Christmas, or holiday season, enjoy, and try not to become overwhelmed or hoodwinked by the incessant diet talk!

 

Tips for the party season

Christmas is so close now! I’m sure many of you are already in the full swing of parties and gatherings, but I thought I would still post a few little healthy tips for the party season.

Keep eating your 5-a-day

Even though there are so many festive treats around at the moment, try to still eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Maybe try having a couple of portions with breakfast (e.g.: a banana and berries on your cereal) and aim for at least a third of your plate to be covered in veggies. As long as they are not covered in a lot of butter, all vegetables count towards your 5-a-day.

Snacks

With all the delicious foodie bits, it can be easy to over-indulge, but remember that certain snacks can be healthy and filling:

  • Unsalted nuts, plain popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon, and fresh veggies with low fat dips are good ideas for party nibbles.
  • Satsumas are a fantastic source of vitamin C (as are other citrus fruit), and are in season this time of year so are really sweet and juicy! Keep a bowl of them in the kitchen – and don’t forget one for the bottom of your stocking!
  • Dried fruit such as dates and apricots contain fibre which helps your digestive system, and count as a portion of fruit.

 

Remember the drinks

Don’t forget that alcohol has calories in too. Maybe alternate your drinks on a night out for one alcoholic drink then one soft drink or water. If you are drinking soft drinks, try drinking lower sugar varieties, or try sparkling water infused with fruit. Don’t forget to ask for a jug of water for the table if you are eating out – it will stop you drinking alcohol when you’re thirsty.

Get enough sleep

This time of year, can feel particularly busy with work parties, drinks with friends and family dinners. Try to keep to a fairly regular sleep pattern if possible as lack of sleep can affect your mood and concentration as well as potentially causing you to overeat the next day. If you know you will be having a late one, maybe try to have a 30-minute nap during the day at some point. This has shown to be the optimal length of nap time to increase concentration and productivity (1).

Keep active

Maybe take to the dance floor at the office party, find your local ice rink or going for a bracing winter walk. Keeping active over the Christmas period will help your health and general wellbeing.

Have fun!

Most importantly, enjoy yourself! You may end up putting on a couple of pounds over Christmas but eating mindfully and enjoying the period is more important.

You might also want to have a look at the ideas on these websites;

https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/christmas.pdf

http://www.kindredbloguk.com/?p=246

P.S. I’m so lucky to be able to go ice skating every Christmas at Somerset House as a King’s College student. The cheesy grins are from this year’s trip!

Sources

  1. Dhand R.;Sohal H., 2006. Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults.