• Margaret Kavanagh Nutrition

Is Christmas FOMO Derailing Your Healthy Eating? And How To Take Back Control

The upcoming festive season is the time of year when we officially cram in 44% more social occasions in December than any other time of year.

Even with a scaled back Covid Christmas, there are still lunches with friends, dinner with family and the relentless advertising from food companies telling us we need to stock up, eat and be merry. Meaning that even with the best of intentions, it’s so easy to overdo it with food and drink.

If you’ve been struggling with your relationship with food or your weight, the festive season can be both challenging and exciting as you don’t want to feel deprived or feel like you’re missing out on the fun – also known as FOMO!

Feeling deprived or like you need to restrict what you eat activates your survival instinct, resulting in you consuming everything and anything in sight. With your healthy eating plans obliterated, the self-recriminations start creating a vicious cycle.

The big question, of course, is what are you really missing out on? Nothing. OK, maybe some sweets, cakes, fried party food and of course some booze filled evenings. But eating and drinking these have a flipside: blood sugar imbalance and energy crashes, poor sleep, almost certain weight gain (if you consume in excess) – and that’s without mentioning the negative self-talk for having over-indulged.

There’s another thing about this festive fear of missing out, and it’s that it has you giving up taking responsibility for your actions around food and alcohol (You would have been able to resist, right, but it was the party season?).

I’m hosting a free Balanced Eating Over Christmas Challenge to support you. Click here to sign up. As part of your registration, you’ll also receive a free Surviving Christmas Guide to help you even more.

Taking Control of Your Choices

The idea of refusing food is mired in emotional meaning both for you and for the host.

And while you may feel that you don’t want to be rude by refusing food or drink, the truth is that it’s a basic human right to decide what and how much you want to eat.

If overeating or binge eating is a problem for you, or if you don’t want to derail the healthy eating habits you’ve worked so hard to instil, then you’ll need a plan to survive the party season.

To be clear, you absolutely can go out, have fun, eat well and be ‘healthy’. You just choose it.

And the upside of choosing, is that you won’t find yourself doing another crash diet in January, which impairs your metabolism and keeps you on the diet rollercoaster.

Your Festive Season Action Plan Around Food

1. Have a plan before you go to bed each night, plan out your food for the next day. This is never more true than at Christmas, when parties, chocolates, cookies and “treats” are just about everywhere.

2. Don't try to diet just now. Set a maintenance goal instead. This is much more realistic and it is achievable, even at this time of year. It will also give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived, or that you’ve failed, which in turn means you’re more likely to rebel (and this is code for heading straight for the box of chocolates without a second glance).

3. Watch your portion sizes especially when it comes to fast-release carbs like pastry, breaded items, cakes, biscuits and other sweet things.

4. Don't go to a party hungry. If you do, you will be fighting a losing battle. Have a low GI snack before you go – just a little something that includes protein and slow-release carbs (cottage cheese or unsweetened nut butter on an oatcake, for example).

5. Keep chocolates and sweets out of sight so you’re not tempted to tuck in just because they’re there.

Your Festive Action Plan Around Alcohol

Often party-goers who are cautious about their alcohol consumption are viewed with suspicion.

If you want to have a few glasses of wine, have a few glasses of wine. But make that decision inside of what you know to be your social schedule over the entire Christmas period.

If you cut back on the amount you are drinking at social gatherings – even choosing not to drink at some events at all – you can feel the improvements almost immediately. On those nights that you don’t drink at all, you’ll sleep better, wake feeling more refreshed, you’ll have much more energy, and your mood will be better. The impact on your waistline will be positive, too – alcohol is a big contributor to belly fat and is brimming with unnecessary calories.

Here are a few suggestions for cutting down – if that’s what you choose to do.

  • Decide how much you are going to drink (maximum) before you go out.

  • Consider telling someone else who will be there (friend or partner, perhaps) to help keep you accountable.

  • Don’t feel pressurised by others. It’s your life and you are the one who makes the decisions.

Have an excuse ready when you want to give it a miss (remember ‘no, thanks, I’d rather have …’ is perfectly OK.)

If you need a bit more support to survive the Christmas period, join my free challenge starting 6 December. Simply join via the form below and as an added bonus you'll get a free 'Christmas Survival Guide' booklet.

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