I was in a very well known health food shop yesterday and I noticed that they had a magazine on sale. The usual perfect – but completely bland – face of the model stared back at me as I queued up. Smart Women Stay Slim At Christmas the magazine cover decreed.

And there, in those six words, lay the key to understanding (and therefore dismantling) people’s misery over food at Christmas.

In this article I will unpick this very common misunderstanding and give you a practical tool for having a truly merrier Yuletide when it comes to eating.

Do smart women really stay slim at Christmas?

Nope. It’s a lie. And a big fat one at that.

The idea behind this headline is that the way to still fit into your jeans on the 1st of January is via more information.

This is nonsense on two levels:

#1 It implies that the magazine in question has some vital information that the rest of the diet industry has somehow missed. Sorry, perfect-but-bland lady, the one problem this industry doesn’t suffer from is lack of knowledge. In fact there’s too much. Is another glossy article really going to be that vital missing link for its readers? Or just a rehashing of things their diet-obsessed brains are already stuffed full of?

#2 Smart women stay slim at Christmas implies that to lose weight, all we need to do is use our conscious mind. Dredge up more willpower. More determination. Be more self-disciplined.

As an eating psychology and body confidence coach, I use a wide range of psychological tools that make willpower unnecessary and determination obsolete (at least until you have built a solid foundation of success).

But what about Christmas, I hear you grumble.

Christmas is NOT the time to focus on being ‘good’. The fact is that if you live in the dark and gloomy land called Britain in December, you absolutely need a feast.

You need a celebration.

You need to eat, drink and be merry.

The last thing you need is some half-hearted I’ll only stick to food X and have one glass of wine resolution that goes out if the window the minute you arrive at the party.

This will only lead to overindulgence, an over-stuffed belly and tons of guilt.

In an ideal world, you would spend most of the year developing behaviour that serves you, and so at feast times where celebration (not health) sits at the head of the table, your naturally healthier (note I didn’t say ‘absolutely perfect’) habits will mean that any overindulgence has much less impact on your waistline. And then in January you resume your healthy habits and the weight reverts to its pre-Christmas norm.

But that’s no help to you right now, is it?

So what do you do?

What can empower you right now, when all around you are stuffing their faces, and your mum has started measuring your love for her in terms of how many homemade Yorkshire puddings you can consume on the 25th of December?

Here are two rules you can set for yourself to get through the second half of December:

RULE #1: You can eat exactly what you like.

RULE #2: For one meal a day, play a game I have created called Beat The Clock Backwards:

Beat The Clock Backwards is nothing more than a creative way to get yourself to slow down with your food.
It comes from my book How To Eat Slowly: 25 Games For Food Rebels . In this book, I explain how eating slowly is one of the most powerful things you can do not just for weight loss, but digestion and your general health.

And it is all I am asking you to do this Christmas: eat what you like, but start to slow down.

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