Did you, like millions of others, fatten up more than just the turkey this Christmas? With the stress, the parties, the buffets, the adverts and scents of Christmas it isn’t any wonder.
Strangely enough this is a survival instinct gone wild, that originated with our tribal, hunter gatherer ancestors. But how can that be when they didn’t even celebrate Christmas like we do?
Even so, the need to fatten up for winter is written into our DNA. Food was more scarce, requiring more energy to find. What could be found wasn’t as nutritious, therefore storing enough fuel to see you through (fat) was essential. This biological coding is still in your amazing mind and it is still reacting to it, creating this need even though food is even more readily available this time of year – causing you to subconsciously want to over-eat.
By reminding yourself that this is redundant code, that you can eat whatever you like, whenever you like and food is always available actually helps overwrite it. You can check in with yourself before you finish off the last of the selection boxes and ask yourself if you are really hungry – or just eating it because it’s in front of you? Better yet, as we all head back to work, take those selection boxes with you and pass them out at the office you generous soul you (while helping you to reach your goals).
Speaking of food being in front of you, seeing food can actually increase your appetite by a whopping 30%. Not just real food like the mountainous buffet your aunt held for New Year or all the sides laid out at the Christmas table, but also adverts on TV, bus stops, billboards. They all tap into the emotional need to treat yourself and celebrate and they are full of sugar and fat. Going into the shop and seeing it all is bad enough, but then you can smell the cinnamon and spice smells they are pumping through the store. This can set anyone into a constant craving binge where you find you haven’t gone an hour without eating something!
You can’t remove the adverts or live in a hole, but remind yourself again, that food is always available and you are choosing to eat only what you need and stop when you are full. There will be more food. The endless parties can increase the amount of food we see as a portion, so now the festive period is over, it’s best to check again that you are eating the right size servings again.
Eating slower is also a great way to give your incredible brain time to catch up and tell your stomach when it has has enough, so put the knife and fork down between mouthfuls and you will effortless find yourself eating less.
So that covers the buffets and the parties, but now it’s January, we are waking up to the financial headache Christmas and rising bills is fueling and we are more stressed than ever. Going back to our wonderful, hunter gatherer ancestors, when they were stressed a great deal of energy was expelled. Either they fought, they ran or they hid until they could run. The cortisol left their bodies and they felt the urge to refuel. Now, we get stressed and we cannot run, we cannot fight, we cannot hide. We find other ways to sooth ourselves that worked when we needed soothing as children, we eat sweets, we eat chocolate and ice-cream. Carbs and vending machine fodder. Then when the cortisol finally leaves our body, the chemical reaction still tells us we need to refuel and therefore we eat more. If you are an emotional eater, this call to sugar is even louder!
By finding healthier coping mechanisms and ways to release stress, you can overwrite this coding as well. Nothing in the mind is permanent and it can be affectively changed. By finding ways to relief stress that don’t involve eating (or putting anything else in your body) and asking yourself before you grab a bag of crisps, “Am I hungry, or do I just want to eat?” You can start to notice the patterns and give yourself what you really need instead.
So you can see now how we are wired to fatten up for winter, but how we can change that wiring, update that programming and give ourselves the best start to 2023.
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If there is anything else you would like me to cover, please reach out and let me know in the comments section – I love hearing your views and want to make this as useful a space as possible!
Love Mel x