It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love Christmas time. I’m not religious, but I just feel such a sense of hope + possibility around Christmas time. The lights uplift my heart + the fact that we are thinking of others + looking for gifts + experiences to share with them really feels like the best part of humanity. I love giving somebody a gift + watching them open it – it’s infinitely more exciting than opening gifts I’m given myself. It’s just such a lovely time, hearts filled to the brim.
…+ then bellies filled to the brim too!
We’re all going to overindulge a little over the next few weeks. It’s hard not to. I’m on my 2nd Christmas meal already with another 3 yet to come. + we should enjoy ourselves. But as always what we do should be done with awareness, not out of automatic behaviour. If you want to avoid an indulgence-guilt cycle, then start to approach your festive season with these tips in mind. Here’s how to avoid guilt from over-eating over Christmas:
Get the right amount of sleep
When we are tired, we make poor decisions. Things that seem like a good idea at 2am after a long day are rarely a good idea at 9am when the reality hits. Getting enough sleep for your body curbs unnecessary hunger pangs, particularly for carbohydrates which our bodies crave when we are tired in order to try to generate energy. When I’m tired I can convince myself I really want to eat that extra bit of dark chocolate or that I really need to eat some carbs because my body is telling me too. My body isn’t telling me to eat that stuff – it’s telling me I need to sleep!
It’s difficult to do this in the world we live in because we are surrounded by devices + distractions. We might watch TV or read on our tablets before bed, both of which keep us awake because of the glow from the screens. It’s difficult to notice we are tired because we so busy distracting ourselves + trying to squeeze every possible second out of life.
I have a lovely little FREE download on yogic ways to get a good night sleep, so this might be a good start for you. Over the festive season if you have some time off + the flexibility, try to sleep without using an alarm for the first few days. Let your body get into the right cycle of sleep. Once you’ve settled in, try to introduce a routine. Get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time. See what works for you.
I sometimes listen to audios before I go to sleep as I want to keep my mind partially active while I let my body relax. As I’m starting to feel like I’m falling asleep, I hit pause having already set my alarm for the next day + go to sleep! If you want to listen to an audio as you sleep try my free yoga nidra audio meditation – it works wonders for relaxing you before bed.
Sit with your feelings
We often use eating as a way to digest our emotions. Some people eat to celebrate, some people eat to comfort themselves. Some people eat to punish themselves. There’s a whole range of reasons why we might over-eat. So as you reach for that second mince pie, just pause for a moment + ask yourself how you are feeling. Why do you want to eat the mince pie? Is it because it’s Christmas + you’re meant to overeat then? That’s not a good reason. Is it because you’ve just had a bit of a family drama + you want to unwind? Also not a good reason. Eating digests food, not emotions. The only way to deal with your emotions is to experience them with awareness. Sit + breathe long + deep for a few breaths + just feel how you feel. Allow yourself to sit with the uncomfortableness of what you feel. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable. It will pass. Then ask yourself whether you want to eat the mince pie. If you want to eat it because you really enjoyed it + you’re hungry + you want a second one, go ahead! If something else pops up, sit with that.
In my Let Kundalini Yoga Change Your Life workbook there’s an audio meditation of how to breathe long + deep if you’d like to try to do it in a guided way.
I’m really into VERY dark chocolate at the moment. Really rich, knock-your-socks-off stuff. When I’m eating it mindfully I don’t need more than 3 or 4 small squares. It’s extremely rich. I just let the taste soak into my mouth. It’s amazing. So satisfying. It deals with the urge for something sweet without being overly sugary + makes me feel like I’ve had a bit of a treat.
If I’m not eating mindfully I can polish off an entire pack of dark chocolate without needing to. I’ll feel unnecessarily full afterwards + I actually won’t have enjoyed it because I wasn’t paying attention. What’s the fun in that?
Try to eat mindfully + slowly. It’s often the first few bites of something that taste really good, then we get used to the taste + it loses it’s appeal. If that happens + you’re not hungry, stop eating. What’s the point in eating when it doesn’t taste good anymore? I always tell myself I can come back to it later if I really want it, when the taste will be fresh again. Invariably I forget about it completely + feel completely satisfied after ignoring the initial urge to over-eat.
Move your body
We need physical exercise to feel good. Over the festive period we can become extremely sedentary – often going into a food coma after our meal + passing out on the couch. It’s likely we are going to be eating more, so we need to take care to also move our bodies so we feel at our optimum. My favourite thing is “lazy exercise”, as I call it. Exercising in your pyjamas first thing in the morning. No need for a gym bag or going outside. No excuses. Just move your body. I’ll do anything from a 30 minute on the spot walking set, to yoga, to a very high impact cardio session.
If you’re looking for “lazy exercise” like me then think about grabbing my Let Kundalini Yoga Change Your Life workbook which comes with 5 videos. You can do these with me from the comfort of your home, so absolutely no excuses. Some videos are more gentle + some are more intense so you can choose the set to suit your needs on the day.
We often use food as a way to substitute making ourselves happy. If we’ve had a long day + haven’t had time to ourselves, a glass or wine or chocolate is the quickest way to give ourselves a treat. Unfortunately, it can lead us into a cycle of regret if we aren’t careful, which then loses the joy we were going for in the first place.
Try to do something that makes you happy that isn’t food. This might be easier during the festive season than the rest of the time as you may have more time on your hands, so get into the habit of finding joy in your life. Go for a walk with your family. Watch a Christmas film. Play games. Reflect on what went well for you in 2014. Allow yourself that space to experience joy before you reach for something to eat as a quick fix.
Let me know what you think darlings, do you have any more tips for being guilt-free over the festive period?
Whatever you do, have a wonderful time.
Love + (Christmas!) Light,
P.S. If you’re looking for things to do over the festive period, check out my Make 2015 Blissful, Bountiful + Beautiful programme + my Let Kundalini Yoga Change Your Life e-workbook + videos.
P.P.S. If you are local to Berkhamsted don’t forget you can plan January to start as you mean to go on with my 13 week detox kundalini yoga course + and my kundalini yoga cleanse workshop! (last day at the discounted rate for this one so grab it now!)