That might sound weird coming from a Registered Nutritionist. I get it - usually the messages we hear from the media and health professionals at this time of year are ones about limiting portion sizes or avoiding 'fattening foods' at parties.
Well you won't hear any of that kind of shit from me because this kind of advice doesn't address our underlying relationship with food - it only serves to make things weirder and more confusing (don't get me started on January 'cleanses')
Here's the thing; how many times over the past few weeks have you felt stressed out or anxious about navigating the food situation at a Christmas party? Or maybe you've placed self-imposed rules around what you can and can't eat, only to have a couple glasses of prosecco, say "fuck it" and eat the whole lot?
How many times have you skipped breakfast, lunch, or maybe even both because you 'overdid' it the night before? How many times have you 'filled up' on water or coffee, trying to convince yourself you're not hungry? You couldn't possibly be hungry because you ate "all those mince pies". How many times have you felt guilty for 'indulging' in festive treats?
Eating is a basic biological need - it shouldn't be this much of a mind fuck.
Two things are going on here: first of all, we are conditioned to equate celebration food as 'bad' and 'unhealthy'. Therefore, the eater is also 'bad' and 'unhealthy'. We end up placing arbitrary rules around eating. "I will be 'good' and have the veggies & hummus and only one mini quiche". Sound familiar? The minute we place a restriction on a food, we create an internal shitshow of stress and anxiety. Our desire for that food doesn't go away just because you decide you can't have it. Eventually we give in (to our very normal and natural desire to eat delicious food). Then it's game over and we end up balls deep into the buffet.
This leads to the second thing that happens: following our 'bad' behaviour, we deprive ourselves of food the next day - either by severely restricting food - "I'll just have a banana for breakfast" - or skipping meals altogether in attempt to atone. We deliberately ignore or supress our normal hunger signals, and because our bodies can't tell self-imposed restriction and deprivation apart from true starvation - it sends out incredibly strong appetite stimulators called orexigenics. These hormones and neurotransmitters are primal drivers of feeding behaviour that serve a fundamental role in survival and evolution - EATING FOOD - yeah, that thing we need to do to live. Our biological need to eat food takes over and we eat ALL THE FOOD. Makes sense when we realise that our most recent experience is that food is scarce and we don't know when we will eat again. This of course makes us feel guilty and angry at ourselves for having no 'willpower'. When actually, it's just biology. We end up going through the whole cycle again - over and undereating - rinse and repeat.
Eating food is normal and healthy. Skipping meals, restricting foods, and making yourself batshit crazy worrying about what to eat and what not to eat is not healthy.
Please don't ever override your natural biological drive to eat. Not in the name of 'health', beauty, or because someone tried to make you feel bad about respecting your hunger. You are allowed to eat WHATEVER you want, WHENEVER you want. Not just "because it's Christmas". You don't have to justify eating by saying things like "Diet starts in January", or "I didn't eat lunch today". You are allowed to eat because you are hungry, because food tastes good, because it's a celebration.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying Christmas food (or any food) - it's not an 'indulgence', it's totally natural to want to eat food.
By respecting your innate need to eat food and by giving yourself permission to eat foods that taste good and are satisfying, you'll find more peace around food. You'll stop scoffing everything down for fear of judgement and actually enjoy what you're eating. And then when you're content, you'll stop. That compulsive drive to eat everything in sight will dissipate because you know that tomorrow you'll still be allowed to eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
Give yourself permission to eat this Christmas, and always. Eat foods that make you happy, make you feel good, and satisfy you. Don't apologise or justify your food choices to anyone. Only you know how hungry you are. Only you know what and how much you should eat.
If this resonates with you and you'd like to build a healthier relationship with food and your body; one that doesn't involved cutting carbs, juice cleanses or counting macros then I have some resources you should check out. Listen to my podcasts on Body Positivity & Body Confidence, or get more information about my intuitive eating & gentle nutrition community - Food Fight.