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  • Writer's pictureSandhya Gokal

Shields and Weapons for Christmas Lunch


If you are anything like me, the Christmas period makes you salivate. Turkey, trifle, baked potato and christmas cake. Mmmm. In my mind's eye, I am the pirate Luffy, sitting at the table, a knife in one hand, a fork in the other, banging on the table with stars in my eyes saying “meshi meshi meshi!!!” (food, food, food!)


But, Christmas is a pitfall period - it is a dangerous zone for people who tend to overeat! 


So today, I am going to go through some strategies to prevent overeating in the Christmas holiday feasting time! Some weapons and shields to have in your arsenal! 


Weapon 1: Water between Wine



“Raise your glass for Christmas! To the turkey! To bon-bons!”


Alcohol flows freely over christmas. It's a time of joy, of cheer, a glass of wine and a pint of beer. 


Having a glass of water between each glass of alcohol keeps you hydrated, will prevent hangovers and quench that lusty wench, thirst! One of the easiest ways to prevent overeating is to make sure you are not mistaking thirst for hunger. 


Some signs to look for:


  • Does your mouth feel a bit dry and cotton-like? That's thirst

  • Do you feel your blood pounding? That's thirst

  • Are your teeth grinding or clicking? That's thirst

  • Do you feel a sudden, inexplicable craving for sugar? That's thirst (unless you're staring at the 6 layer trifle. Then that's just good sense)


Action Step: Bring your water bottle on the day, and know where it is at all times!


Shield 1: Protect your boundaries. 



“Oh just have one more bite!”

“You must try this cake”

“Did you have some of this??”


Learn to listen to your body over the external voices prompting you to eat. If you hear yourself exhaling the sign of fullness, put your utensils down, that's your body saying “Stop! I'm done! Thanks for a lovely meal.” (a sentiment you can echo to your gracious hosts, or if you are the host, to yourself as you give yourself a mental high five for the awesomeness of your Christmas cooking)


Things to look for

  • Heaving a sigh 

  • Your chewing starts to slow down

  • Thinking just one more bite - you're probably full already! 


If you are quoting the late Irish comedian Hal Roach and having to say “STOP! And don’t move as well!” Then you’ve ventured too far into food coma land. 



Action Step: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, pick one boundary that serves YOUR needs and practice saying it, either in the mirror, or to other people.



Weapon 2: Snack on fats!





Sorry, this doesn’t mean scarf down that bag of candy canes staring at you. 


Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olives are a great way to keep your hunger levels in check while providing a supercharged fuel for your body. Fats keep you full, which means while the smells from the kitchen waft enticingly towards you, your stomach won’t be growling and pulling at the bit to get your chompers into it! Instead you can look forward to all the Christmas deliciousness with a content tummy. 


A great Christmas pre-dinner snack idea is to make a cheese board! Cheese is high in protein and fat, and has the added bonus of pairing really well with olives, nuts, fruits, dips such as hummus and babaganoush and wine! 


Skip the chocolate and skip TO the cheese!



Action Step: Pick 1 item that fits in with this motto: "Fat is your friend" and either bring it on the day, or find out if it will be available to you



Shield 2: The PAUSE technique





  • Put on the brakes for a moment. 

  • Assess your hunger level on a scale of 1 to 10. 

  • Understand what your body wants and needs. 

  • Slow down before responding. 

  • Entertain your options.


I love the japanese technique Hara Hachi Bu - eat to 80% fullness. Knowing what your 1-10 levels are is crucial to avoid overeating. If you can already tell what hunger level you have at any given moment, well done you! You already have a secret weapon hidden up your sleeve. If not, spend some time in the weeks leading up to Christmas observing your hunger levels and create your own scale. Use the signs of fullness from above to rank the levels, and stop eating when you reach level 8


My personal way of achieving Hara Hachi Bu is this: whenever I feel myself heaving the sigh of satiety, I allow myself 2 more bites (so that I can convince my mind I am not missing out) and then put my plate away. This way, I am bypassing my FOMO filter whilst not suffering the ill-effects of a visit to food coma land. 



Action Step: Identify 1 sign that you have reached 80% fullness



Weapon 3: Offer to bring your favourites!


Love trifle? Offer to make this.


Feeling a little bloated and want access to salad? Put your hand up to make one!


Have a hankering for gingerbread cookies? Make the dough ahead of time and bring it for a fun Christmas day activity!


Sometimes it can be daunting offering to bring something to Christmas lunch. You may feel like it is an imposition, or offensive to the host. 


However, most people LOVE having their burden reduced around the holidays. Statistically, Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. By offering to bring a dish, especially if it is something you excel at, have a recipe you want to try or caters for a specific dietary concern, you are essentially giving a huge helping hand to the host. 


Bonus point is that you will be satisfying your own Christmas craving, making it a holly jolly Christmas for all.



Action Step: Choose 1 item you can offer to bring to Christmas lunch, if you have a craving for something!



Shield 3: Plan AheaD




“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Going into a Christmas feast without a plan is like entering a dragon cave and expecting NOT to be attacked by a dragon. Foolish, and a strong likelihood of getting burned. 


If you are privy to the ins and outs of Christmas lunch, plan ahead. Decide what you do and do not want to eat. 


For example, I don’t really like Christmas cake (cue GASP). I know, right?! But fruitcake has never been my thing. So this year, I’ve decided to pass on the Christmas cake and instead enjoy fruit with custard, which I DO love. If there was trifle, that would be another thing I would choose to let enter the sacred space I call my stomach.


By choosing what you do and do not want to eat, you are more likely to be able to pass. Make rules for yourself! One of my rules is that I pass on foods that are not made by the people at the meal, that I would not normally choose to eat. In this way, I am able to enjoy more of my loved foods and ignore the rest. 


Action Step: Make 1 rule around the Christmas lunch, then enforce that rule. Remember, the only person who loses out if you break your rules is you. 


CONCLUSION


There you have it!


6 ways to protect yourself from the dangers of overeating around Christmas. What other strategies can you think of?



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