What should I eat at Christmas?
Dec 22, 2021
We get this question all the time, “Doctor, what should I eat at Christmas?”.
Most people are expecting us to give them a food list or a meal plan, but here’s the thing - there is no one plan that suits everyone.
There is no one size fits all.
The key is to really know yourself well.
Remember you are the boss of you!
You get to decide what works for you. What works for you may not work for someone else.
These are the things you need to consider.
Eating off plan for one day does not undo all your “good” work.
The issue with the Christmas and holiday season is that it’s rarely one day.
It’s the Christmas lead up. There’s office parties, school breakups, catchup drinks, gifts of chocolates and cookies.
There’s Christmas Day - this is the easy bit!
Then the post-Christmas period - more get-togethers, Christmas leftovers. Rolling into New Year’s celebrations with more eating and drinking.
So the question really is not what should I eat, but how should I eat?
Here’s a list of options and you get to choose which one works for you.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to eat. You choose what you think will be the most helpful.
- Stay low carb throughout the whole festive season including Christmas Day - this is our preferred option. Low carb is a lifestyle for us and just like a vegetarian wouldn’t eat meat just because it’s Christmas, we don't eat carbs just because it’s Christmas. The reason for this is that we don't want to wake up Fluffy! Who is Fluffy?? https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/who-is-fluffy. Remember this is what works for us, but you are allowed to do whatever works for you!
- Stay low carb and make low carb versions of traditional Christmas foods. This is a good option but just be mindful that lots of sugar substitutes can still wake up Fluffy.
- Have a break from your low carb lifestyle for one or two days over the holiday period. We really wouldn’t recommend too many more days, as the dopamine receptors may upregulate, meaning you will have to deal with cravings in the days following. This is where one or two days turns into three or four months.
- Beware the drinks. Holiday time often means more alcohol over more days. Low carb drinks can still have lots of alcohol. This needs to be processed by the liver, which converts the alcohol to triglycerides (fat), which need to be utilised first. This is the equivalent of piling logs in front of your woodshed. High carb alcoholic drinks put logs in front of your shed and lock the woodshed shut https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/unlocking-the-woodshed. Be mindful of the quantities you are drinking. Alternate with sparkling water. Add lime or lemon.
- Have high eating days and low eating days. This is not about forced restriction but tuning into your hunger and satiety signals. It is normal after a high eating day to not be hungry (this is different to cravings). Honour your hunger. If you are truly hungry then eat. If you’re not hungry then don’t eat - simple! And remember fasting is a tool to be used when you truly aren’t hungry. It is not a punishment for overeating.
- Be mindful of the stories your brain will tell you. All or Nothing https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/reframe-failure-this-christmas, FOMO https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/does-FOMO-get-to-you, or Fear of failure https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/is-fear-of-failure-stopping-you-losing-weight.
- If you go off track, do not berate yourself. It is unhelpful. We know that you cannot hate yourself thin https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/self-love-and-whippets.
No matter how you approach Christmas, know that you are worthy and loved. Honour and look after your body. It is the vehicle that carries you around, but it does not define you!