“It does not matter how you eat from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. It matters how you eat from New Year’s Eve to Christmas.”

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Nutritional therapist Šárka Knížková advises how to deal with Christmas cravings.

Christmas is slowly knocking on the door, and with it the family time, presents, fairy tales and of course food. Many people are already worried about how they will look sadly at the Christmas sweets and eat their fit variants, while others will be horrified when they step on the scale on New Year’s Day. But is it really necessary? Let’s take a look at what can lead to overeating at Christmas and how to tackle it to enjoy the festive period.

First, let’s focus on quantity. When we eat, we are often not focused on the food we are eating, but on many things around us – the TV, the laptop, the phone – and we do not notice the signals our body is sending us. But let’s try to remove these distractions for once – Home Alone will be on four more times during Christmas. Eat quietly at the table, and you might be surprised how soon your body will send you the signal that it had enough. And now it is up to us what we do with that signal. Christmas meals are a great symbol of a certain chill, but do I need to eat the whole Christmas braided bread for breakfast? I can keep some of it for afternoon coffee.

However, if overeating already happens, there is no need to feel guilty, and certainly do not punish yourself by skipping following meals. It will only lead to the return of uncontrollable overeating sooner or later. Let us also leave aside the deliberate induction of vomiting or the use of laxatives; this does much more damage to our bodies than overeating. The right thing to do is choose something light, without much fat as your next dish and focus on adequate protein and vegetable intake. It is good to go for a short walk but not run a marathon to burn calories.

One tends to control the effects of overeating immediately – the belly is bloated, this is quite normal, there is a lot of food. Most of it gets digested and leaves the body. And what about the increased weight? The body somehow has to cope with the increased food intake, and it usually deals with it by retaining water. But again, this is a temporary condition.

Recently, fitness sweets, or healthy versions of classic Christmas sweets, have become a literal hit. The first thing is that these wannabe healthy versions do not have to be very healthy at all. For example, the recipes replace sugar with dates, but it is still sugar even though it comes from a natural source. The butter tends to be replaced by peanut butter, which is undoubtedly an improvement in the amount of (un)saturated fatty acids, but it is still a concentrated source of fat. The paradox is that fitness sweets have the same, often higher, caloric value than regular Christmas sweets. Often there is also the feeling that if it is healthy, you can eat more of it. And truth be told – fit gingerbread is simply never going to taste the same compared to the classic Czech honey gingerbread.

What’s with the four pieces of sweets on the plate? From my perspective, pointless, just like the fitness sweets. “Yeah, but I would not eat anything else if I did not count it!” Seriously. Can you realistically imagine eating nothing but sweets day in and day out? I do not think you would be able to see that box of treasures after a day or two at the most. Indeed, do not deny or forbid yourself anything. It would just lead to a lot more craving and snacking until it would get out of control. On the other hand, if you indulge in moderation, there is a good chance you will not crave the “forbidden fruit” as much.

Christmas is once a year, a holiday of peace and tranquillity not only for the soul. And just as a week-long diet will not save you after a sinful year, Christmas will not spoil your year-long diligence and effort. It does not mean you have to start from scratch again. It does not matter how you eat from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. It matters how you eat from New Year’s Eve to Christmas. Allowing yourself to enjoy the festive period a bit certainly does not mean we have to give up on healthy living! Even during Christmas, we can consume plenty of vegetables, fibre and get adequate exercise – after all, there is more time for movement over Christmas. It is great to know how to get it all right, but it is important not to go crazy and have unnecessary stress.

So, MultiSport and I wish you a wonderful Christmas time!