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It’s that time of year again. Christmas cookies, plates of sweets and pies, and too many bread rolls with dinner. There are snacks to be had: Swedish saffron bread, candied nuts, fudge, and Chex mix galore.
If this sounds specific, it’s because that’s what my parents’ house has traditionally looked like on Christmas Day. Scalloped potatoes, yams with marshmallows gently toasted on top, and a can of whipped cream ready to spray onto that slice of variety style cheesecake.
I apologize if I’m making you hungry… But I want to set the stage for what a lot of us deal with during the holiday season. This spread of food might look similar to yours, but inevitably we all admit the next morning that perhaps we ate too much on Christmas Day.
So how can we keep our heads, so to speak? I’m not the only one with eyes bigger than my stomach, and in past years I paid for it with my blood sugars.
You Need a Game Plan
Going into Christmas Day should not feel like a battle, but you must have a battle plan ready. Aunt Bertha might sidle up with her signature plate of double chocolate fudge brownies, insisting you take one. Uncle Joe might have set up shop next to the eggnog bowl, forcing cups into the hands of everyone who passes by.
And your cousins might go back to the feasting table for seconds, leaving you to wonder if you should too.
Let the wine flow! Except…maybe not.
This is my second Christmas where I’m sticking to low-carb regardless of what carby things grace our presence. I successfully thwarted a Thanksgiving disaster (aided by my aunts who have jumped on the keto bandwagon) and am excited to see what Christmas brings.
No one brought any desserts to our Thanksgiving!
I covered this approaching stress battle a bit in my post on how to deal with holiday stressors, but you’re going to need a more detailed plan.
As it happens, remaining disciplined about Christmas Dinner is mostly about boundaries: with others, and with yourself.
Boundaries With Others
If you need to, announce before you even get there that you need to stick to your diet for your health, so please don’t offer food or drink that will compromise that. And if people step on this boundary (which they will,) smile and say “No, thank you.”
A feeling of guilt for turning down their offer is normal—it’s conditioned, even. It’s okay. Take a deep breath, hold it, and when you let it out, also release the guilt.
Scope out what you can or can’t eat. If you can, find out what will be there ahead of time, and if needed you can bring food that you actually can eat, or a snack in case you think the pickings will be slim.
Do others serve the plates at your holiday gathering?
Speak to the one plating things up. Ask for more of what you can eat and none of what you can’t. Your commitment to your health (and your health itself) are more important than your host’s feelings about whether one guest didn’t try all the food.
And lastly, dealing with that one relative saying, “Oh—just one won’t hurt!”
It will hurt your discipline, probably make you feel disappointed in yourself, guilty about turning it down, and “just one” opens the door to giving in to the rest of what you know you can’t have.
For me, I’ve lost all taste for sweets. Even if a beloved family member makes absolutely divine pastries and wants everyone to try it…I just can’t. It’s not even a choice for me anymore. A piece of fudge will turn to ash in my mouth.
So at least for me, this makes it easy to turn things down.
Remember that hurt feelings are not your responsibility. That pastry chef aunt of yours is responsible for how she reacts to your gentle refusal.Hurt feelings are not your responsibility. Click To Tweet
Smile and move on.
Boundaries With Yourself
Nothing will be different unless you’re willing to approach this differently.
Set up some rules with yourself. If needed, entrust them to your spouse, partner, or close friend who will be with you during the day. Let them help you keep yourself from overeating or eating the wrong things.
My husband will occasionally ask if he should prevent me from eating something, and I usually say yes. He knows my weaknesses in the form of yams with marshmallows on top, as well as the delicious yet insanely carby pecan pie.
If it all becomes so overwhelming, take a moment for yourself. Step outside to give yourself a pep talk as to why you set up those boundaries at all.
Are you trying to lose weight? Are you in the middle of a Whole30 sprint and can’t have anything with dairy? Or maybe you’re trying to quit sugar (as all of us should) but you’ve struggled to do so?
Whatever your reason, and whatever your boundary, remind yourself of it.
Stick to your guns and everyone will respect you for it, regardless of what they think or say at the moment.
Christmas Dinner is a Minefield
Hit or miss, horseshoe or hand grenade, it doesn’t matter. If you find yourself taking a bite of pie when you don’t even remember how it got into your hands, practice grace.
Finish chewing and swallowing, set the plate down, and reaffirm your discipline to avoid any more.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fail.
Tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity.