Christmas Conundrums: Portion Creep
“Go on, have another one, its Christmas!”
Remember that little caveperson in your brain we mentioned back at the beginning of December? The one who is all about the fundamentals of your survival? Well survival means eating, and while our stone age ancestors may have had it tough in this respect, we certainly don’t!
Our brain has adapted to take advantage of times when food is in abundance to help us survive when food is scarce. Unfortunately this means that when we are presented over the festive season with a greater range and variety of food, which is typically also more calorie dense than usual, our hard-wired response is to… you guessed it, Feast!
This hard-wired response is not particularly helpful for our waistlines in an environment with food options almost everywhere we turn! So here are a few tips to stay ahead of your primitive brain and stay in control of your portions this Christmas:
- Avoid telling yourself ‘No treats!’ this Christmas. It’s probably not realistic and can result in portion creep. Instead, make a conscious decision about which treats you are going to have and when you do, focus on enjoying them mindfully.
- A little bit here, a little bit more there and none of it accounted for… If you are tracking your energy intake, don’t take a holiday from this over Christmas! Continue to remain aware of the calories you’re consuming… even the ones you didn’t plan to…
- While you’re at it, keep track of your daily activity levels using a pedometer or activity tracker. As our routine changes over Christmas it can be easy to skip the exercise that is a part of your usual routine. As we tend to naturally underestimate calories consumed and overestimate our activity or exercise levels, maintaining an awareness of this over Christmas can be really helpful in guiding our choices over the festive period.
Our brain by its nature tends not to notice small changes over time. This means that those gradual increases in portion size and decreases in exercise can easily go unnoticed with all those festive distractions at this time of year. So what can you do to maintain your mindfulness of your energy intake and generally be proactive in tackling portion creep this Christmas?