Now, a lot of people in the western world celebrate Christmas. However, whether you celebrate it or not, you’re likely to be exposed to a whole lot of information concering your diet and lifestyle in the time from now until Christmas. Some diet and lifestyle changes are completely natural, some less so!
Let’s break it down with a run up from mid October until the end of the year!
In the northern hemisphere the days get rapidly shorter throughout October and the weather becomes colder. This causes people to be less active because we are less likely to be outside during darkness (a survival mechanism). It also encourages higher car usage – the net effect is more time spent indoors and less physical activity. The result is a requirement for less calories to maintain bodyweight.
October also brings two other key events. One is Halloween and the other is the yearly adjustment of one hour back (a return to GMT for the UK) for the timezone.
These two events are a food marketers dream as the colder weather keeps people indoors longer in the evenings. This time of day is when many people still watch television and the television networks know this. By releasing addictive episodal shows, campaigns for food can really get a lot of advertising impressions. This includes halloween specific offers for foods in supermarkets and also food delivery companies.
The combination of colder weather, shorter days, and decreased physical activity alone present the opportunity for weight gain, but the additional food marketing really serves up a problem!
Much of the halloween food is junk food based around refined sugars, extremely easy to eat and extremely marketable. It’s often at point of sale near checkouts in supermarkets and where people queue to pay at petrol stations. Regardless of whether you celebrate halloween, you will be exposed to the junk food, and most people will succumb to the marketing at some point.
November means halloween is over and the real hard marketing campaigns get underway – food is a fundamental part of the marketing, but also shopping. Advertising campaigns encourage both online and physical shopping, both come with their advantages – most people will do both. Physical shopping leads to over indulgence, a mentality of ‘well it’s only once a year’. The entire season is geared up to spending, and that includes food – the quick fast food meal as a ‘reward’ after a day of shopping or the coffee shop coffee with the christmas (chocolate + cream) blend in the morning before work. It all adds up.
Even shorter days lead to more television watching, more advertising and less physical activity. For weight gain , it’s all very synergistic yet most people are unawareness of what is happening to them.
This is where the countdown really starts, a lot of people have just been paid, some have received Christmas bonuses, and again, the mentality of ‘it’s only once a year kicks in’. A lot of organisations have Christmas parties, a lot of bars and restaurants offer deals and the advertising campaigns become enormous. There’s also a friendly childish style to a lot of the marketing, which subconsciously reminds people of their own childhood and a no rules attitude towards food. At age 7, type 2 diabetes and heart disease probably isn’t on the radar, but at age 47 it should be something to be aware of!
Nonetheless, on goes the party – and that’s ok, life is about having fun and being happy. The time of year can bring people together, but through peer pressure into the mix and there’s a cocktail for a public health disaster, which is exactly what starts to happen.
Throughout December, people start to get ‘the flu’, and pharmaceutical companies know this. Television adverts for ‘cold and flu’ remedies appear. On the back of low physical activity, over indulgence, and stress, it may not be ‘flu’ at all…
Weight loss companies also start their marketing in December with their ‘new year, new you’ campaigns. Whilst very few start to build their best versions of themselves in December, the knowledge that this resource is now available drops the guilt threshold somewhat, allowing a bit more unhealthy behaviour.
This pattern continues right up until the start of January, and then suddenly a lot more people get ‘the flu’ – the mainstream media get involved at this point, naming flu strains and offering public health advice. After 3-4 months of relentless food marketing, low levels of physical activity, low levels of outdoor activity, and over indulgence, again this ‘flu’ may not be a surprise to those who have read this far!
It’s not all bad news, and there’s a lot of simple things you can easily implement to avoid gaining weight, and actually lose weight before Christmas!
These are likely the most effective strategies,
- Think about your future, not the short term future you’re ‘sold’ through advertising.
- Really become aware of the advertising and have a plan to counter it.
- Plan your meals through cooking batches of meals, so that you ALWAYS have a meal ready within a few minutes.
- Accept that those around you will not fully support you! Avoid confrontation, just accept their behaviour.
- Keep vegetables at eye level in the fridge, not in the bottom trays! (This is powerful)
- If you must have nuts during December, go for nuts that must be cracked, never ever ready to eat nuts – small quantities of nuts become huge quantities when watching television.
- Drink more water. With the exception of some people, most people are dehydrated – drink water on waking (at least a pint), and drink throughout the day, and evening.
- If drinking alcoholic drinks, alternative between water and alcoholic drinks (hangover and inactivity go together).
- Consider starting an exercise class (zumba, yoga, running, walking). The actual exercise may well not cause you to lose weight, but they will provide accountability.
- Be aware of the meals you’re eating when it’s not from your kitchen! (most people probably eat 4 ‘Christmas dinners’ that they haven’t cooked. Think lots of oil, lots of salt, a LOT of fat.
- Try to be very mindful of meal deal style offers, particularly from traditionally good food suppliers such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencers. The meal deal desserts are often extremely high in calories.
Think of the last quarter of the year as a time for companies to make money out of you, rather than a time where they have your best interests at heart – they don’t. They just want your money. Remember, they will be selling you diet foods in January!
If you’ve decided that now is the right time to make positive changes to your health, forever then you can apply for a discovery session.
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