Have you ever over-indulged over the festive season, and felt guilty and bloated afterwards? I think that probably applies to many of us! I have adapted and re-published a blog I wrote a few years ago because it’s a good reminder for me too.
Clients regularly talk to me about what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing or having, which can result in guilt, regret, or even shame if they choose to indulge.
We all experience the world through our memories, habits, beliefs, and reactions. We naturally have emotional connections with food, and at a time of year when loved ones gather together it can be challenging to achieve a healthy balance. It can also be difficult for people who don’t have their friends and family around them, have recently lost someone close to them, or are just not feeling like themselves.
Making more conscious and mindful choices in line with long-term goals means we can allow ourselves the occasional indulgence. It doesn’t mean you have to eat a salad for Christmas dinner, unless you want to, of course! I believe that being healthy is about having a long-term outcome in mind, with a sense of purpose behind it, and doing the things which help with this most of the time.
Mindful eating brings your attention to what, when, where, and how you are eating. Often ‘why’ as well! This is about noticing the healthy habits which work for you, as well as being aware of your potential temptations for unhealthy choices.
Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy a guilt-free festive season and a happier, healthier New Year:
1. Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. What you focus on you get more of. If I say I’m going to “give up chocolate” or “drink less wine”, guess what pops straight into my head?!
A friend shared an article about diet research and comprehensive studies by Charlotte Markey, which proved that strict dieting can result in craving and bingeing, and lead to less healthy habits over the long term. Worse still, evidence shows that people who are always on diets are more likely to regain weight. A sense of ‘missing out’ and an awareness of the lack of choice doesn’t help, in my experience.
2. Make more conscious choices, and plan ahead. Have plenty of healthy options available, and you can plan lighter meals to balance out the rich, stodgy feasts which are traditional at this time of year!
Be more conscious of what, when, where, and how you’re eating, noticing the triggers for less healthy choices in-the-moment. It can help to pause and check against your long-term goals for your health and wellbeing, and whether you really want or need to eat in that moment.
Dehydration can fool us into thinking we are hungry, so drink plenty of water. Herbal teas can be a good option too. And did you know that the body takes up to 20 minutes to register that we’re full? Try to eat more slowly, and don’t be tempted to rush your food in social situations.
3. Savour your food – with all the senses – and slow down. Enjoy the whole range of food and drink you choose. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures and feelings, one by one. Chewing slowly usually means you will eat less. At a recent workshop I took the group through a guided visualisation, and they were much more drawn to the rainbow of healthy foods, with their bright, vivid colours, the crunchy, juicy textures and fresh smells and flavours than the unhealthy ‘beige’ alternatives. And that was while talking about the range of temptations over the festive season!
4. Sit down – this will help to avoid grazing and you will notice more what you’re eating, and whether it’s something you really want. Try not to be doing anything else at the same time (e.g. checking emails, Facebook, or watching TV).
5. It’s all about balance. Be kind to yourself! If you have the occasional indulgence, you have many other choices available to you throughout the day/week. When you think about the bigger picture, a few treats don’t seem like such a big deal! It’s as much about thoughts, emotions and behaviour as it is about what you eat. I like to think of it as ‘setting a course’ for your health and wellbeing, and getting back on track if you go off a little bit.
I wish you and your families a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. And remember, a little bit of what you fancy does you good. Just keep it balanced, make it a conscious choice, and savour it!
Visit my Events page for information on a range of workshops and programmes coming up to support you.
1:1 coaching could be the thing for you if you prefer a more tailored solution, or to accelerate progress alongside workshops.
Book a complimentary consultation to talk about your needs and experience what it’s like to work with me.
This month I’m celebrating my birthday, both personal and business, and it’s now 7 years since I left the corporate world to become self-employed. It’s also 10 years since I began to transform my life by building on my professional experience with qualifications which have led to what I’m doing now.
I’m passionate about finding different and creative ways to support, inspire, and encourage people, and this year has brought several new approaches and experiences.
– My podcast – a series of conversations to spark curiosity, share learning and inspiration, and connect listeners with what’s important in their lives.
– E-book – I created an A to Z of Mindful Living in the form of a workbook which has a variety of activities, stories, quotes, and links to other resources like meditations and videos. It was a pleasure working with Donna McKenna at Pink Spaghetti PA Services Stirling & Livingston to bring this to life.
– Inspirational card deck – this has been my latest creation, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. There are 52 beautiful cards with original photos, doodles, quotes, and themes from my book ‘Roots for Growth’. The cards can be used for coaching, workshops, inspiration and self-reflection and I can’t wait to start using them with my clients!
– My book has continued to reach people in significant ways. One lady who had recently retired and felt very unsettled wrote to me to tell me she had found clarity, peace, and focus from reading it, and found a renewed appreciation for her career and her resilience. I’ve also had more opportunities to speak at events, radio shows, and webinars.
– I co-designed and delivered a leadership development programme on Strengthening Mental Fitness with Carolyn Murray. We have been bringing it to other teams since then and over 90% of participants so far have rated the programme as Excellent.
– I applied for funding towards this brand new, professionally designed website which helps me to tell the story of what I do, why I do it, and provide more opportunities for visitors to connect through videos, meditations, and many of the above approaches. It has been a very worthwhile experience and a way to acknowledge and build on where I am now and develop for the future. Thanks Karen Wells at Indigo Nine!
– This year I also became an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland who do incredible work to tap into the significant economic potential of women entrepreneurs, lobby for change and equality, and encourage women and girls to start and grow businesses in Scotland. It’s an honour to be chosen, especially on their 10th anniversary, and already it has broadened my horizons in ways that can bring benefits for other people as well as helping me to grow.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this time. I really appreciate it.
When I saw this photo, I felt drawn to write something about it. It captures an experience that left my heart bursting with joy, and my face sore from smiling.
Last weekend, my husband’s band played live together for the first time in almost two years. It was a big event with bands, bikes, and a custom show in the North of England. We weren’t even sure it would go ahead because of COVID.
But it did go ahead, and what a weekend we had. The band brought in a horn section with a tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet player to add to their existing 6-piece. What an amazing sound, and it was an incredible, energetic atmosphere as they opened the first night. And, for one song, I was up there with them singing harmonies.
I almost chickened out. We’d talked about me doing it the night before and I hoped a couple of the other girls would get up and sing too. They decided not to, and a wee voice inside me said “it’s too scary, there will be hundreds of people in there”. And then I felt a strong sensation in my gut that said “but you know you want to!”.
I said I might have done it if we’d had the chance to practise, and left it there. Not for long though, as seconds later one of the guys started playing the opening chords of the song on his guitar. So, we were practising – there and then! I knew in that moment it was going to happen.
I realised I’d been letting stories run in my head. If I’d believed them, I would have missed out big time.
Next thing it’s the following night and I hear the opening chords again. I show my backstage pass, run to the steps of the stage, take a deep breath, and go for it. I am greeted by the guys in the band, supportive and encouraging, grinning with thumbs-up. I feel very aware of the bright, colourful spotlights and the crowd filling the huge marquee. Catching my eye in the front row are my sister and daughter and several of our friends, smiling and cheering me on.
It’s a great feeling to be joining in with these talented musicians, picking up on their happy vibe, loving playing together, and it gives me the courage to sing up and enjoy every second. I’m only singing a few lines after all, and I let self-consciousness slip away and give way to connection and flow. I notice everything with heightened senses, hearing each voice and instrument through the monitors, especially the horn section who sound fantastic, seeing the lit-up faces of hundreds of people who have probably not seen and heard live music for a couple of years. What a privilege to be part of it.
At the end, I feel a rush of joy and gratitude for having the opportunity to do this, and I’m greeted by big squeezy hugs and more encouragement from our pals at the bottom of the stage steps.
Life has taught me – and continues to teach me – to do the things I want to do, be in-the-moment, and make things happen, even when the little voices of doubt creep in. I think the trick is to listen, sit with it, and then decide for yourself. Instead of letting the stories run in my head, I wrote my own story that night.
And the spirit of adventure, joy, and laughter carried through the whole weekend. I felt a deep sense of connection and had such uplifting conversations with friends who keep showing up for us again and again. Love and support flowed for both me and my husband as we heard many offers to push his wheelchair, get anything he needed, and help with whatever would help him continue to go to events like this, even though he thought this might be his last.
I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last – that’s just a story that can be rewritten 😉.
If you are curious about the stories we tell ourselves and the impact this can have, you might like to read my book, ‘Roots for Growth’, where I explore the topic extensively.
Photo credit: Maisie Horn