It's easy to overeat at Christmas. Expected, even. I mean, you've been given permission - it's officially a feast time.
And as you lounge about watching TV, you're inner monologue goes 'Just one more Chocolate, and then I'll stop. Definitely, this time. Mmm...that was yummy.... ok, one more, then that's it...'
Christmas is a time of feasting and festivities, and it's become the norm to try to eat our own body weight in chocolate, cake, cheese, turkey...
Which is fine - until January ticks around. Your clothes feel tight, and the scales in the bathroom emit an evil glow as you tentatively approach them.
Then comes the recrimination, self criticism of the worst kind and the vow to lose weight.
No, not just the Christmas weight, but the extra you were carrying before because this is THE time, for sure, absolutely and without a doubt to stop messing about and make this the year that to achieve your perfect weight. Yay!
So there you have it. You're all set for a year of dieting, punishment and self loathing.
We all have a superpower, but maybe you aren't aware of it yet. It's called 'Choicepower' and it's the greatest superpower of all.
Why? Well it gives you control - of what you eat, what you do and basically of your whole life.
One of my most popular blogs is 'Why willpower doesn't work, and what does', so why not pop on over and take a look see?
Don't worry, I'll wait. <twiddles thumbs>
So you now know that willpower is rubbish, and doesn't work, largely due to our rebellious natures.
Choice power, on the other hand, totally works and especially well with food.
The reason it works so well with food is that we have a constant battle in our heads about food - what we should eat, what we shouldn't eat, what we ought to eat, what we didn't ought to eat, what is good and bad food.
So if you tell yourself that you shouldn't have hot toast made with white bread and dripping with creamy butter even thought you love and adore it, the next time you come face to face with some you will be in a quandry.
And because you tell yourself 'I have no willpower', you eat it. You tell yourself you are weak, and blame your lack of willpower (as you are licking your fingers!).
Then, you give yourself a hard time.
It's different with choicepower, because you are making an active choice about your current needs.
Faced with hot buttered toast, you make a choice:
You have options. You make a choice based on your current circumstances, and there is no need to beat yourself up.
Ok, firstly - don't panic!
At Christmas, it's highly likely you will eat too much - hell, it's a tradition!
But if you are an emotional eater, binge eater or have any kind of difficult relationship with food there is a high likelihood of you having a binge at some point.
So, again - don't panic, and don't beat yourself up. This is a time to be gentle with yourself, not to bully yourself.
Firstly, don't eat again until you feel physically hungry. And by that I mean you can feel the hunger signals your body provides, it doesn't mean wait until you are so hungry you want to pass out. Your body will tell you when you it needs nourishing.
Then, gently and without judgement, see if you can identify why it was that you had a binge. And no, 'I am greedy' isn't an option.
Let me give you an idea of some common reasons:
It's useful to use a journal to explore your emotions, how you felt before, during and after the binge. If you need some help setting one up, take a look at 'How To Start A Journal'.
The relationship we have with food is very complex. Accept that the food provided you something you needed, even if you don't know what or are confused by your behaviour.
I smile when I go last minute food shopping before Christmas. I am surrounded by people with trolleys laden with food of all kinds, some even have 2 or 3 trolleys. The shops are only closed for a couple of days!
Everywhere you go, people offer hospitality. Some offer hospitality more forcefully that others, not taking no for an answer.
So how can you stick to your guns and refuse yet another mince pie?
I really love this blog '11 nice ways to say no to food pushers' from Fit Bottomed Girls, as it gives ideas about what to say when having food pushed at you. Take a read.
And 'When Saying No Isn't Enough' by yours truly
Remember to keep it in perspective. You overate, you didn't kill anyone.
So unless you stole your food from the mouths of the starving, it's ok. Give yourself a break.
Did this resonate with you? Maybe you'd like some help with your eating patterns? If so, don't struggle on alone, contact me and let's make some positive changes.
Jane Travis is a qualified and experienced counsellor and clinical supervisor in the Lincoln area. She has been working at Reflections Counselling Lincoln since 2005. She also helps other counsellors and therapists market and grow their private practices at JaneTravis.co.uk.
FREE Cheatsheet 'How To Say No'.