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Dr. Claire Kehoe Headshot

I Wanna Do Right but Not Right Now!

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The title of this column was taken from a line in a song by one of my favourite performers, Gillian Welsh and I think it sums up pretty well one of the main hurdles we face when trying to do right when it comes to weight loss or healthy eating. "We do want to change, we do wanna do right, but right now isn't the time."

This is especially true around this time of year. We may all have been doing really well up until mid-November or early December and then the Christmas social calendar kicks in. The children need to be kitted out for plays, your work-do is planned, your partner's Christmas party is penciled in the diary and before you know it, trying to juggle everything seems impossible. You are right in the middle of the holiday madness, the seasonal good cheer is kicking in and you want to indulge for the whole month.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that any steps you take now to continue to eat well and healthily will amount to nothing come the 25 December. After all, if you know you are going to overindulge over Christmas, resisting the temptations around you seems like a drop in the ocean.

So what do you do? You get back into the habit of your morning mocha and muffin. Your lunches are grabbed on the go and dinners are fast and loose. Maybe that tin of sweets you have bought for visitors gets opened as soon as you decorate the tree and you decide that a little evening choccie or two will be fine because it's Christmas all December.

There are however, two problems with this approach. Firstly, by all means enjoy your Christmas, but throwing caution to the wind on the expectation of one day's festivities is foolhardy. It leads you into a false sense that one day of festive fun will undo any and all the hard work and effort you have put into losing weight until now.

It is worth remembering that it's not the one off family occasions that lead us to year on year gain weight, it's the small incremental changes to our diets that do. All the extra sweets, treats and rule bending in the run up to Christmas are extra calories and regardless of what you eat on Christmas, Boxing or New Year's Day will contribute to weight gain in and of itself.

Secondly, if you have built up healthy habits over the past few months and decide in December that these habits aren't worth maintaining for the next three weeks, regardless of what it does to your waistline, it is re-introducing some of the bad habits that lead you to gain weight originally. What this means is that once the celebrations are over and it's back to reality, you will have to relearn your good habits. You may be lucky and pick these up quickly, but it's far more likely that you will struggle to get back on track as old habits that you have worked hard to tackle and correct will have to be tackled all over again.

What this means is that eating healthily and losing weight will be harder still in January. Never underestimate just how hard it can be to correct bad habits, our behaviour and attitude to food are often the hardest things to address when following a diet. But it doesn't have to be this way, you can rise above it all, stick to your healthy eating guns, enjoy a treat every now and again (I'm not Scrooge!) and come January getting back on track and starting over again won't be as hard a mountain to climb.

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