Are you worried about Overeating at Xmas table ?
When it comes to holiday meals, the big question is:
How to know when you are over- indulging?
Leading up to New Year’s Eve, we can expect festive celebrations which are often centred around the table. People who are struggling with their diet, or disordered eating issues can feel particularly stressed during this time, carrying a heightened worry about body shape, weight, and food choices. We sat down with Elena Kisel and Miles Price – our respective Psychological and Nutritional consultants to learn about effective tools and attitudes in navigating your way through Xmas dinner parties and many food temptations.
Indulgence in moderation and the right focus is key
I would say entering any Xmas dinner with a mindful and conscious attitude can significantly preempt your over-indulgence. I have been exchanging with Elena about how social cohesion is an important marker in stress reduction and feeling connected during the holidays, hence having less risks to over-indulge with any sort of consumption.
One thing which may stir you away from feeling mindful and connected with your meal is alcohol. Alcohol is all too present in the celebration of Xmas, and if one is uncareful in moderating your limits it is too easy to lose that lucidity which is your cognitive control, in general. If one does choose to consume alcohol during the dinner, a good trick to do is sipping your glass infrequently. That way, it won’t be refilled as often. Secondly, you can always space your alcohol consumption with a glass of water in between. Your liver will be most thankful and so will your head the next day.
It is not easy to moderate your indulgence over Xmas when you are faced with a deluge of tempting food. One preempting strategy could be to sift through the options which are low carb (meats and vegetables) and those which are high carbs (xmas cake, sweets, pastries, desserts) and just focus as much as you can on low carb items. This way your energy won’t crash half way through the day, and your weight gain will be less.
Lastly, after the heavy eating of Xmas, a nice way to offset the burden of the meal metabolically is to do a good 15 min walk after the meal. This will help with the digestion of the food plus you’ll feel more energised when you relax back at home after your walk.
Miles Price is is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner
Learning to identify unique hunger cues and satiety levels is essential in regulating intuitive eating
Both Miles and myself agree that some indulgence during the holidays could be a healthy marker of a flexible attitude around food. It is often the rigid and restrictive eating leading up to holidays which can eclipse in a hard to stop binge-eating and out-of-control eating patterns.
This is a common conflict I see with patients suffering from disordered eating patterns and who often start negotiating their holiday meals with a skewed body-image and a history of irregular eating. Chronic dieting can lead to psychological and physiological changes which can disrupt our natural barometer to eat intuitively. Many people see themselves fasting and dieting their way leading up to the New Years Eve or a given Xmas party, only to find themselves losing control with food and alcohol consumption soon after. These are very real and damaging experiences that people with disordered eating and drinking behaviours go through.
Eating regulation towards a more intuitive relationship with food often requires a process of gentle and systematic re-learning of unhealthy eating patterns. In fact, it could be quite challenging to suddenly become mindful with your plate at a Xmas dinner party! Therefore, for this season, I would invite you to meet any transgressions or overindulgence with food as an opportunity to practice self-acceptance.
Elena Kisel is a Registered Counsellor and Clinical Hypnotherapist specialising in treatment of Addictions, Anxiety and Eating Behaviour Disorders
So how can we prepare ourselves for a more mindful Xmas meal? Here, Elena and Miles are sharing with you their Expert Tips.
5 Strategies in Regulating your Eating Behaviour through a Holiday Season
Tip 1: Set intentions
Few of us take the time to ask an important question: How do I really wish to spend my Xmas dinner with family and friends? Sitting down at the table with a nourished soul and a mindset for kindness and self-acceptance can certainly set you up for a more mindful and enjoyable sharing of the meal. Besides, bonding and fun activities, such as cooking, outdoor games and other memorable moments can help in shifting your attention outside the sole focus on food itself.
Tip 2: Identify limits
Most people who are concerned about overeating at Xmas dinner are likely to feel out of touch with their hunger and fullness signals. Pacing your meal with mindful eating, taking breaks and returning awareness to your plate can all help in reducing overeating.
Tip 3: Plan ahead
Pre-planning your plate with adequate expectations of what exactly you wish to eat can mitigate some anxiety, reduce risks of impulse eating and help you feel more in-control during the meal.
Tip 4: Set Boundaries
Learning strategies to say “no” and setting firm boundaries around diet-talk, intrusive questions or social pressures is as important as planning how you might mitigate any triggers around often complex family dynamics.
Tip 5: Don’t skip your breakfast
Many people are likely to find themselves tempted to restrict their food intake on the day of the anticipated dinner or even skip their meals entirely. Such a strategy could result in ever more obsessive focus around food, irritable moods and a greater risk for over-indulgence at the table.
Tip 6: Support system
Once you have identified your limits and triggers around the food intake, it could be useful to share your intentions with at least one person who you can trust and feel comfortable to seek support with. Speaking to your partner or a specialist practitioner can reduce anxiety about anticipated situations, prepare for risks and triggers, and support you with accountability around your goals.
When it comes to finding the right balance with food, quick fixes and dieting can do more damage in disrupting your systems for Intuitive eating. Our LifeClinic Eating Regulation Program is designed to help you in re-learning unsustainable eating patterns towards a healthy relationship with food. Learn more about the program here and book yourself or a loved one a Xmas Gift of an opportunity to live a life free from disordered eating.
Functional Medicine Practitioner & Clinical Nutritionist
M.Sc Nutritional Therapy, Post-Grad Diploma Functional Medicine Institute of functional medicine & functional medicine University
Registered Counsellor & Clinical Hypnotherapist
Masters in Professional Counselling, Advanced Certificate in Clinical Hypnotherapy and
Behavioural Change (BSCH, HKPCA)