For those of you who are counting calories, the holidays can always be a tough time to resist all those delicious festive favourites. However, health experts say there’s no harm in joining in with the fun. Advice from nutritionists and experts explains that ditching those restrictive regimes this Christmas could actually be a better option in the long run.
Tara Leong, expert nutritionist, stated that despite your diets, people should enjoy a special meal Christmas day rather than forcing themselves to “be good” and avoid dwelling in surprised cravings that can lead to future binge eating.
“Once you put that seed in people’s minds to avoid foods, the inner rebellious teenager comes out and goes, ‘Bugger you, I just want to eat all of the pudding now that you’re telling me I can’t eat it’, and then that becomes all they can focus on,” says Leong.
According to Leong, people are better off enjoying a dessert, or whatever festive treats are served in moderation rather than cut out everything while others enjoy around you, as long as you indulge in moderation. She recommends the simple solution of listening to our bodies as, “it’s very good at regulating when we are full and when we are hungry”. Honouring that simple fact can help us enjoy the simple things whilst not overdoing it over the holidays.
Another expert, Ben Purssell, a transformation coach at LiveFit, also agrees with this philosophy advising dieters to have smaller amounts spread throughout the day in order to burn off more calories.
“Indulge over the day, don’t have it as one massive big lunch and one massive dinner, because then you feel like a potato and you don’t want to move anywhere,” Purssell suggests. Trying to keep up a healthy intake of food more frequently in smaller amounts can in fact help burn extra caloric intake with more ease.
In addition, Purssell says including light activities throughout your Christmas day plans such as a thirty-minute walk is a great way to keep fit and avoid gaining those dreaded extra holiday pounds.
“If you don’t want to have a big blow out, it’s a good idea to do light walks each day because, obviously, your calorie intake is increasing, so if you can exercise or just go for a light walk in the afternoon, that’s really nice to do,” explained Purssell.
The main lesson to take away from this advice, says Leong, is to avoid feeling guilty about having the foods you enjoy or even a second helping of that glorious dessert. Feeling guilt can lead to giving up on your healthy ways, and instead leave all responsibility to a new diet you plan to start in the new year. However, more often than not, when the time comes, people find the stress of starting fresh to be even more difficult after the holidays.
“It becomes this huge cycle just because they had two pieces of pavlova on Christmas Day” she says.
Research has shown that maintaining a healthy activity level as well as feeling comfortable with the foods you eat and enjoy a special treat every once in a while rather than feeling guilt and frustration can actually lead to more positive, healthy behaviours.