I saw this question posted in a Women's Fitness Forum and underneath it was the plethora of predictable responses that said "I am going to try and have a controlled Christmas". Of course this is in regards to eating and nutrition but when you read this, what does this mean to you?
Does it mean that on Christmas Day you'll be balancing macronutrients in your head, counting calories and wondering if you can sneak in some extra vegetables and a run to burn it all off? And then on Boxing Day and beyond, will you be ruminating that you shouldn't have eaten "x, y or z" and that you've failed to maintain any sense of control or discipline and that you've failed. Or on the flip side, you've eaten like a bird and feel a bit hollow about the whole event (perhaps you feel you missed out on all the fun?).
I'm all for a different approach - that of "making allowances". This is not to be confused with "making an excuse" but rather "making allowances" encourages a global perspective during a time where overeating is par for the course for many.
Making an allowance reflects that there will be a large variety of foods to choose from over the Christmas period and that it's perfectly OK to eat a few treat foods over this time and enjoy time spent with friends and family. Having a few treat meals and different foods and enjoying time with friends and doesn't cause the Christmas weight gain, it is the self destructive thoughts and behaviours around this different food and not making an allowance for yourself that cause the problem. Underlying issues of restriction, rebellion and "discipline" can really backfire on the person wanting to stay lean over the holidays.
This is completely different from overindulging until you hurt and making the excuse that "it was Christmas time". Making an allowance will make you feel good about yourself - ironically by giving away "control" you find true control because you're holding the reins. Making an excuse and trying to grit your teeth and "stay strong" is a soul destroying, self esteem crushing venture.
The take home message is "go with the flow" and treat yourself with respect. For me this will mean having a bit of what I feel like and leaving the rest. It will mean not abusing my body with gallons of Diet Coke or too much ice cream. It may mean a walk in the morning to clear my mind without regards to calories burned. It will be as God intended, a day of peace and joy.
Now to head off to do some final last minute shopping!