How to fight overeating at Christmas 

 (and a food inspired adaptation of “’Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore) 
Christmas can be an emotional time when our issues with food can be amplified. It is a time when stress, proximity to family, or distance from family, can lead us to eat more than usual. We also might feel that we have an excuse to eat more ‘as it is Christmas’.

We all deserve treats throughout the year, including at Christmas and it is possible to enjoy Christmas food without eating too much of it. One way to do this is to consciously choose what treats we have. Remembering this can be especially helpful when we start feeling swept away by the ‘Christmas spirit’, or should I say ‘Christmas stress’?

Here are a few simple tips to help keep Christmas eating under control:

Plan food and treats in advance. This means you can look forward to treats without being preoccupied with deciding what to eat over Christmas.
Have a back up plan. Before Christmas, make a list of a few healthy things that you can do when you feel compelled to eat unhealthy food. Some ideas are yoga, calling a friend or family member, putting on Christmas music, reading a book, meditating or even having a shower.
Don’t buy it in the first place. If you can do the food shopping when you are feeling calm and healthy, it is likely that you will have less treat foods in the house. If the treats are not there, then you can’t eat them as easily.
Before Christmas, make a list of times when you feel healthy and don’t want to emotionally eat. Also, make a list of occasions when you do want to overeat. What patterns can you see? Are they any triggers to Christmas eating? If so, being aware might be enough to stop eating too much. Also, making a plan to avoid succumbing to eating triggers can be helpful.
If you tend to get given food as gifts, perhaps consider which ones you really want to keep and eat and which ones you don’t really need. Can you give the extra ones to someone else who would appreciate them, or to charity?
I will finish with a food inspired adaptation of “’Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore. I hope it makes you smile.
The ‘fight’ before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
The presents needed wrapping, no sign of my spouse.
The stockings were thrown in a pile over there,
In the hopes that in wrapping, someone would share.
The children refused to get into their beds,
While visions of Hatchimals danced in their heads;
And Daddy in a foul mood, and I in a flap,
Would just absolutely love any kind of nap.
I was desperately craving all things in batter,
And gave up all hope of resisting cheese platters.
Away to the fridge I flew like a flash,
Tore open the cupboard and ate chocolate fast.
I ate the whole packet despite what I know,
It will go straight on my waist before tomorrow.
When, what in my wondering hands should appear,
But salted mixed nuts, and two ice-cold beers.
With my inner compulsion, so sneaky and quick,
I knew in a moment I’d give myself stick.
More rapid than eagles the regrets they came,
And inside, they shouted and cursed me by name;
Oh, COME ON! You’re STUPID! Why can’t you FIX IT?
Why fill up your stomach? How much further to fall?
Now dash it all! Dash it all! Myself I appal!”
As lettuce that before the wild dieter lies,
When I meet with a Toblerone, my intentions they fly,
So out of the window my healthy thoughts flew,
Powerless over food, with a heap of stress too.
And then, with an inkling, but feeling aloof,
This bingeing and gorging was in fact proof;
Despite my best efforts of turning it round,
Down crashed all hope and guilt came with a bound.
I was dressed in a onesie, from my head to my foot,
And my clothes were all stretchy to cover what I put,
Into my mouth which I couldn’t take back;
I looked like a marshmallow stuck in a pack.
It is Christmas. How I wish that I could feel merry,
With cheeks slim, not craving every chocolate cherry!
Thinking of weight gain fills me with sorrow,
…I know how bad I will feel tomorrow!
I am not even sure if the kids brushed their teeth.
My weight hangs around me and traps me beneath,
I have a broad face and a squidgy round belly,
That shakes, as I walk like a bowlful of jelly.
I feel chubby and plump, is this my real self?
And I sigh when I see me, despite of myself.
The click of an app, the menu in my head,
Soon meant that I again to the takeaway fled.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work
And got all the plates out; then turned with a jerk,
And laying my finger aside of my nose,
Giving a nod, extra prawn balls? I posed
I sprang to the car, my willpower abysmal,
On the way, I ate shortbread shaped like a thistle.
I resolved to the fact, as I drove through the night

Let me know how you got by emailing me at
Binge Eating Therapy

I specialise in eating disorders and have 17 years’ experience as a behaviour change and obesity prevention scientist at Cambridge University. I’ve been there and I get it, and now support people with binge eating, emotional eating, weight loss struggles, and bulimia.
I help clients discover and take charge of their hidden eating triggers and transform their relationship with food. Sessions often focus on getting freedom from constant thoughts about food and weight and escaping the cycle of yo-yo dieting and weight gain. Gain understanding about what has prevented you from recovery in the past so you can overcome that, and live life without restriction or bingeing.
I combine counselling, to understand and overcome emotional barriers, with the strategies and tools of health coaching. The combination of counselling and coaching is powerful for making lasting change.

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The information in this website is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr Kirsten Keighley on behalf of Dr Kirsten Keighley Ltd. We recommend you make your own health decisions based on your own research and consultation with a qualified health professional. We recommend that you consult your and your child’s doctor and/or dietician before beginning a new diet or exercise programme.