Register now for Dr Mary's free Staying on Track Through Christmas Masterclass

Episode 110 Summary


  • Christmas time can feel overwhelming. Many people feel that gaining weight over Christmas is inevitable. This is an example of unhelpful stories in our heads. The truth is that weight gain over the festive season is not inevitable.
  • There are inward and outward pressures that can make staying on track through Christmas more challenging but it is certainly not impossible. 
  • Watch out for Christmas Marketing Mischief - There are certain foods that have been associated with Christmas and the food industry will try to trick you into buying them using tactics like “scarcity” to trigger your fear or miss out. This is often based on untruth. Shortbread is available all year long as are chocolate wrapped santas. Christmas cake is simply fruit cake, also available all year long. Candy canes are available online all year long too! There is NO scarcity. 
  • Marketing intentionally preys on our emotions - big food companies associate their products with feelings like joy and connection. We all want to feel joy and connection, but do chocolate wrapped santas actually bring joy? We can feel just as much joy celebrating and spending time with loved ones. We can still have a wonderful connection with others without eating the shortbread. 
  • For some of us one is too many and a thousand isn’t enough - It’s helpful to be mindful of whether you can moderate or if you are better off abstaining. 
  • Remember that you are the boss of you and you get to decide how you would like to navigate Christmas - You may want to eat the shortbread on Christmas day and that’s ok. You don’t need to let perfectionism get in your way and be all or nothing and eat all of the shortbread just because you had one and “wrecked it”. You haven’t wrecked anything. It’s what you do MOST OF THE TIME that will impact your long term health.  
  • Don’t use your body as a bin to get rid of leftovers. It is ok to throw them away. 
  • Managing or navigating your way through Christmas Day can be difficult for many people - It’s such a popular topic that we hold a masterclass on it each year.  We will help you to navigate scarcity, perfectionism, Christmas work parties, Christmas parties, food bullies, FOMO and the stories in your head. 
  • Dr Mary Barson’s Staying on Track Through Christmas masterclass is on November 28 AEDT - Australian time. If you can’t attend live, that’s ok. We’ll send you the recording. 
  • Sign up on our website, at 




Show notes:

Staying on Track Through Christmas


Dr Mary Barson: (0:11) Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr. Mary Barson.


Dr Lucy Burns: (0:15) And I'm Dr. Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss.


Dr Mary Barson: (0:23) Hello, lovely listeners, Dr. Mary here. Ah, it's good to be back and podcasting with you all. And I am joined by the truly fabulous Dr. Lucy. How are you my friend?


Dr Lucy Burns: (0:36) I am super well, Mares, super well. I am looking forward to some sunshine over summer because for those of us who are living in the southern hemisphere, particularly if you're in Melbourne, or even probably the most of the East Coast, we have had a very, very long wet spring and we're all desperate for a little bit of sunshine


Dr Mary Barson: (0:59) Getting washed away, aren't we? Yes, I'm waiting for the ground to be less sodden just so that we can mow and the grass is easily knee high. Coming into snake season. I've actually just realised that if I don't mow when the grass is sodden and wet, I'm just not gonna mow. So that's probably what I'm gonna do on the weekend, is crank out the ride-on lawn mower and try and make my backyard less unsafe. Which is another thing that we need to live with in Australia that not everybody else has to deal with.


Dr Lucy Burns: (1:35) No, not at all. Absolutely. And I think one of the things I love about coming into summer for the, again, people in the southern hemisphere is it's Christmas time. So you know if you're in Australia, South America, South Africa, we all have Christmas when it's hot.


Dr Mary Barson: (1:55) Yes, we do Christmas on a scorching summer's day. Go to the beach.


Dr Lucy Burns: (2:00) Now it's interesting. And we're going to be talking about Christmas today and managing or navigating your way through Christmas because it is a time for a lot of people that can be difficult. We will tell you more about it at the end. But in case you drop off early, I just want to let you know that this topic is so popular for us that people are always asking about it.  We had a masterclass on it last year and we're going to hold it again. And the date for the masterclass is November 28 AEDT - that’s Australian time.. You can go to our website, at to sign up. You do need you to sign up if you want to attend this masterclass. And even if you can't come live, we will send our registered participants the replay. You do not want to miss this, it is going to be game changing.


Dr Mary Barson: (2:52) We've done it for a few years now and it is really helpful because lots of beautiful people feel that Christmas time can be overwhelming. Or just feel that gaining weight over Christmas is inevitable. Like festive kilos are an absolute given.


Dr Lucy Burns: (3:10) Absolutely. Absolutely. There's lots and lots of stories in our head around Christmas. And you know, I think both intrinsic and extrinsic forces can make it a little more difficult, but not impossible.


Dr Mary Barson: (3:24) Definitely not impossible. And that is what we will discuss at this masterclass. You can find a way to navigate the tricky times for Christmas. Stay on track and still really really have fun. Whether you're in the sun or not in the sun, you can still have fun over Christmas.


Dr Lucy Burns: (3:45) Absolutely and for our northern hemispherians - if that's a word - I'm imagining that you guys will be bunkering down a little bit over Christmas. Particularly if you're in the very northern northern hemisphere where it is cold and you know traditional Christmas scenes of snow and big coats based on your lifestyles.


Dr Mary Barson: (4:08) Yeah, I'm sure you can relate this to but I've spent a lot of time over December as my daughter has grown up, explaining to her why there are snowman ornaments on the Christmas tree and why Christmas carols are all about dashing through the snow.


Dr Lucy Burns: (4:27) And Frosty the Snowman. Yes, absolutely. We as Australians, we are moving a little bit towards that, we have got some Christmas Carol in the bush business. And I think that the rusty Holden ute features prominently but


Dr Mary Barson: (4:40) Fighting the urge to sing that. No not gonna sing on this podcast! That's not gonna help the listeners.


Dr Lucy Burns: (4:49) All right, lovelies. So what we're going to chat about today is again, a common issue we have around Christmas and some of the questions that we often get asked in our coaching calls. One of them is, you know, what am I going to do? What? How can I navigate Christmas? What do you recommend we should do? And I guess, you know, our answer is always caveated with, you know, you are the boss of you, so you get to decide. But here are a couple of scenarios that may help you with that decision. So, Mares, I would love to chat initially about some marketing mischief that happens around Christmas time. And how, as shoppers, we can get sucked into the messaging that some of these very big and very predatory companies are doing.


Dr Mary Barson: (5:40) Yes, Christmas it’s all about buy buy buy! With food, in particular, the food industry will try and trick you into believing that you need to buy these Christmas items. That you need to consume certain Christmas items. Because they won't be around. They use a well proven marketing tactic called scarcity. It's a psychological tactic where they will try and almost scare you into believing that you have to buy the chocolate wrapped santas and you need to buy all of the candy canes and all of the Christmas foods because they won't be around. They're only here now.  This hacks into a very, very powerful part of our psychology. And when we believe that items are scarce, we feel that they somehow seem more exclusive. We feel a bit afraid that we're going to miss out. They seem more valuable to us. And it causes within us a powerful urge to buy and consume.


Dr Lucy Burns: (6:52) Absolutely. And again, lovelies, this isn't our fault. Like this is part of our really primitive, you know, DNA responses to scarcity because if we think back, you know, there were times where there were food scarcity seasons, you know, Winter was, traditional Winter was, there was less food around. You know, fruits weren't available. So our brain has mechanisms to help us navigate those and you know, for some times it was about feasting when food is plentiful, because we will be fasting when it's not. The difference being of course, that we don't live in times like that anymore. And food is plentiful all year round.


Dr Mary Barson: (7:36) There is no scarcity.


Dr Lucy Burns: (7:39) Now, there truly isn't. And it's really interesting because people will go. Oh yeah but what about mince tarts? Honestly, you can actually buy mince tarts any time of the year. On the internet, you can buy anything anytime of the year. But they are more plentiful and obviously strategically placed around Christmas time. 


Dr Mary Barson: (8:04) But what about candy canes Dr. Lucy?

Dr Lucy Burns: (8:06) Oh, you can buy them every time of the year too.


Dr Mary Barson: (8:08) But what about bottles or tins in the shape of Christmas trees?


Dr Lucy Burns: (8:12) Again, you can buy them, and in fact you can buy them probably cheaper after Christmas. So it is this it's really interesting this build up to this one day of the year that you know has so many connotations wrapped up into it, around bringing family together, around love, around sharing, around abundance - all none of which is problematic in itself at all - but for which marketing hijack.


Dr Mary Barson: (8:48) They do. They hijack our emotions. What Cadbury wants you to do, they want you to buy their everyday same old sugary, not that amazing milk chocolate. But they will wrap it up in little elf wrappers or Santa wrappers. And that's what they want you to buy but what they actually sell you is joy, connection, fun. They will very very pointedly make all of their marketing to connect to your emotions.


Dr Lucy Burns: (9:25) Absolutely. Absolutely. And this is why people you know, and again for companies Christmas is Joy. Joy. It's such a word that is prominent in Christmas marketing. Now of course who doesn't want some joy? I mean God we're human. Of course we want joy. We love joy. But you know, they're not kind of marketing their product as, you know, have a healthy dose of addiction with your 12 dozen Christmas Santas. You know, it's so interesting when you recognise it's a bit like shortbread. Like again, what are the foods that are most linked to Christmas? Okay, and shortbread would have to be up there. And it's sometimes in the shape of stars. But honestly, you can buy shortbread any day of the week, any day, even at the supermarket. It's there all the time. But we have no hankering. Well, you know, not necessarily have a hankering for it during the year. But all of a sudden at Christmas, I mean, we're all out there. Then we're making shortbread. We're buying shortbread. We're gifting shortbread. Not because shortbread tastes amazing, but because of its association with Christmas. 


Dr Mary Barson: (10:37) That's it, we are trying to buy joy. Connection. These things that we really want. And you also need to be mindful of the scarcity story that we create for ourselves. So yes, big food companies will definitely try and get us to buy their processed foods or their unhelpful foods by invoking this scarcity mindset over Christmas. It's a short period of time, so you've got to get in now! But we can create our own scarcity stories in our head around Christmas foods.


Dr Lucy Burns: (11:16) Absolutely, and a common one. And again, you're the boss of you so you get to decide what you want to do. But a common story that we see, particularly in sort of the January, February period, is when people have been on their plan going well, and they've decided to go off their plan for the Christmas Day celebration. And then Christmas day turns into Christmas week, turns into Christmas month. And now they're back where they started feeling dejected. So tell us a bit about that Mares. What are your thoughts?


Dr Mary Barson: (11:48) We've all got stories in our head about Christmas. Any of us who have grown up in a culture where we celebrate Christmas, we've all got those stories that can be powerful, and they can relate to food, and they're going to be all intermingled with love, joy, with stress. With the negative sides of Christmas. It's all going to be pretty complicated. A nice little jumble of human emotions are going to be in all of us around Christmas time. You don't have to believe the stories in your head. It's important to know you can not eat shortbread on Christmas Day, and still have a wonderful connection with your kids. You can also eat the shortbread on Christmas day if you want to and share that experience with your kids. But just because you do that doesn't mean that you then need to spiral into hideous self loathing and continue eating all the shortbread and go on a massive rampage. You don't have to believe that perfectionism, all or nothing story in your head. You are the boss of you. And you get to choose what you do and what you believe.


Dr Lucy Burns: (13:04) Absolutely. And I think this is part of the issue around Christmas. It’s again, knowing yourself well. There's no rules, you're the boss, you get to choose what you want to do. But what you choose needs to be something that is going to be helpful for you. So it's actually very, very easy to stay on your low carb lifestyle for Christmas because basically it's this meat in Australia, meat, salads, if you're, you know a salady person, even if you're doing the traditional roast, it's meat and vegetables, it's pretty easy. You can make low carb desserts if you want to. You can make a low carb chocolate cake. You can make a low carb, spiced puddingy thing if you want to, you don't have to go the full route of traditional food. But if you want to go the full route of traditional food, you can, but here's the big thing. Don't then press the stuff-it button. The stuff-it button is oh I’ve wrecked it. You go I’ve wrecked it. I'll just eat everything. Then you eat all the Christmas food to get rid of it so that you can start again.


Dr Mary Barson: (14:10) That's right. You use your body as a bin to get rid of all of the extra trifle because people bought seven different desserts for Christmas lunch and your fridge is absolutely bursting at the seams with leftover cake and pudding and dessert and the best way to get rid of it is to just eat it. And then you can find yourself later on, sometime in January realising that you've taken an unhelpful turn.


Dr Lucy Burns: (14:37) Absolutely yeah, and again, you know, Fluffy for those of you who don't remember Fluffy. Fluffy is our euphemism for waking up your sugar cravings, your sugar addiction. He's awake and rampaging and it becomes just that little bit harder. So I think that there's many ways to approach Christmas day and it's about finding the most helpful way for you as a person. For me, I will. Well, the first thing I know is that I always over-cater. It's a thing that whenever people come to my house, I'm sort of mindful that I am likely to over-cater. So I have been working hard on that in the last few years. Because I'm not feeding 5000 people. I’m  feeding maybe 10. And they don't eat that much food.


Dr Mary Barson: (15:25) So that's a scarcity mindset story in your own head. 


Dr Lucy Burns: (15:29) Absolutely! Yeah, yeah, exactly that, you know, in my brain, I'm going,  “What if they're more hungry? What if I haven't got enough food for them?” I mean, seriously, how much food can one person eat? So yeah, that was always something that I used to have a story around - making sure there was enough food for everybody - and in my head, you know, if I'd got to the point where there were not many leftovers, it was like, “Oh, my God, maybe they were still hungry?” There's no way they could be still hungry. Seriously, there was enough food. Anyway, that's a little side issue. But the reason I work hard on that now is because I don't want you know, unhelpful foods in my house for prolonged periods of time, it's much easier.


Dr Mary Barson: (16:05) It is. It can be really problematic. Having a freezer full of ice cream and a fridge full of desserts, just sitting there calling your name on Boxing Day, and for those first few weeks of January, versus not over-catering, and maybe just having a bit of leftover ham, that you can enjoy some ham and eggs for breakfast for a few days afterwards.


Dr Lucy Burns: (16:26) Absolutely. And in fact, that would be one of the things I look forward to at Christmas, buying a big ham, which I don't buy during the year. But it's a great way to tap into that mindset, that a leg of ham is about Christmas, it's there in the fridge. I can regulate ham pretty easily, I don't need to worry that I'm suddenly going to wolf down the whole leg in two days. And then it does mean I have a lot of meals with ham. But I love ham so, good!


Dr Mary Barson: (16:56) Everything's better with pig.


Dr Lucy Burns: (17:00) So I think it's really about, I think if you come to the masterclass, this is what we talk a lot about, it goes for an hour. So it's a lot of good information for you. That really does unpack some of these mindsets that you may not even know about. I mean, we've touched on scarcity, we've touched a bit on perfectionism. There's others. Particularly we talk about FOMO and the food bullies and all of the stories in your head that just may take you and your all terrain vehicle off the path that you want to be on.


Dr Mary Barson: (17:39) And that is not the only option available to you. You can absolutely get through Christmas, keeping your inner, all terrain four wheel drive vehicle on the path that you want. Obviously, you have to go over a few little ditches and you’ve got to navigate Christmas parties and work parties and work dos and all these things. So it can take a little bit of skill, it can take a little bit of practice, a little bit of planning, but you can do it. So come to our master class and learn more about how you can stay on track through Christmas.


Dr Lucy Burns: (18:14) Absolutely lovelies. So again, that website address is And as a reminder, it's on Monday, the 28th of November 7:30pm Melbourne time. And if you can't come live, we will send you the replay if you've registered.


Dr Mary Barson: (18:35) It's going to be amazing. 


Dr Lucy Burns: (18:37) Good one. Excellent. All right, lovelies, we hope you have the most wonderful, fabulous, healthful week ahead and we will see you next week.


Dr Mary Barson: (18:45) Bye.


Dr Lucy Burns: (18:52) So my lovely listeners that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr. Lucy Burns,


Dr Mary Barson: (18:59) and I'm Dr. Mary Barson. We are from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit our website


Dr Lucy Burns: (19:10) And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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