A Few Christmas Reminders
Ailsa Brogan-Hewitt

A Few Christmas Reminders

I love this time of year: the lights, the weather (most of the time!), the smell of Christmas trees, mulled wine and the general festive cheer. Although, there is one thing I really don’t like and that’s the dreaded diet culture creeping its way in, more than ever before, and raining on everyone’s Christmas parade. The guilt, the food shaming and the constant battle of ‘being good and bad’ (Santa was never referring to the food we eat when he makes the naughty and nice lists just FYI!). To help with this I want to clear up a few things…

Carbs will not make you put on weight

I hear it and see it all the time but carbohydrates are not solely responsible for us putting on weight. The one and only thing that makes us gain body weight is eating more calories than we need, this goes for all and any kind of food. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred energy source and we get them from starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta, flour, bread and cereal, as well as vegetables, fruit, milk and yoghurt, and also cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks. The ones that seem to get the bad reputation (apart from the obvious added sugar versions) are bread and pasta. Whilst wholegrain versions of these are deemed the healthier option due to the amount of fibre and other nutrients such as B vitamins, on their own they are not high in calories. As with any food, it’s the quantity we eat, how they are cooked and what they are served with that counts.

Christmas Calories

This time of year can be tricky to keep on track if your goals include eating a healthy, balanced diet. The free flowing alcohol, chocolate offers in the supermarket, the office party buffet etc. Even though these activities also happen throughout the rest of the year too, we can feel like we are missing out if we don’t join in at Christmas; we seem to have this kind of ‘sod it’ attitude. It could be that we see this as a break from normality, similar to being on a holiday. Or maybe it’s due to years and years of diet culture conditioning and habits that we tell ourselves at Christmas we overeat and indulge and in January we lose weight and get healthy. Either way, just because it’s Christmas we don’t have to practice this ‘sod it’ attitude for the entire period, although it can be fun from time to time, over longer periods it can also set us back with our goals. However, and this is a big however, if you do find yourself overeating now and again (at any time of the year for that matter!) do it and enjoy it, do not feel bad. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re just eating food; you’re not burning down an orphanage as my girl Christie Begne would say.

’Bad’ food

I have said it before and I will say it again. There is no such thing as food that is bad for us. There is also no such thing as a perfect diet, and even if there was you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy, achieve fitness or weight loss goals. Of course, we need to keep our bodies healthy and working properly by eating wholefoods for the majority of the time (alongside doing other things like exercising, drinking fluids etc.) but we can also eat the foods that may not be as nutritious from time to time too. Eating the odd piece of Christmas cake, some pigs in blankets or having a few glasses of fizz is not going to make us gain weight overnight, become unhealthy or undo any progress we have made. Also, most of the time the foods we deem less healthy still have some nutrients and benefits, even if it is just for the soul! As a rough guide, try aiming for 80% nutritiously dense foods and 20% of the rest and you’re onto a healthy, balanced winner.

That’s all from me for 2017! I wish you very Happy Holidays and a fantastic New Year. Remember, January is just another month of the year, don’t get caught up in the ‘the new year, new you’ diet rubbish. If you do choose to set some new healthy eating goals that’s great, but don’t be fooled by fad diets, focus on being healthiest and happiest version of you.

See you in 2018!

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