The holiday season can be a difficult time to navigate when you're on a health journey. Between Christmas parties, free-flowing drinks and limited time to cook or exercise, it's hard to stick to the healthy habits you've been building over the course of the year.
Knowing your Diet Type can equip you with practical strategies to navigate the silly season with your weight loss goals on track – without missing out on the fun.
Behavioural scientists at CSIRO developed the Diet Type quiz to help you understand your diet personality. Basically, your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to weight loss. Do you find yourself easily tempted to eat, even when you're not hungry? Well, you might be a Craver. Or do you tend to overthink your food choices? Then you might just be a Thinker.
While eating the right food and moving your body are how you lose weight, understanding your behaviour and how you mentally approach weight loss can be a game changer. Take the five-minute Diet Type quiz now to find out your diet personality.
CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members have access to a Diet Type Dashboard – a toolkit where you can find personalised weight loss strategies, based on your diet personality's strengths and weaknesses, plus tools and advice from CSIRO experts.
Here are our top Christmas health tips according to your Diet Type.
Cravers are more or less exactly what the name suggests – people who are easily tempted by the sight, smell or thought of food. Christmas can be a challenging time thanks to the abundance of food-focused celebrations (hello, dinner parties, canapés and desserts!) If you're a Craver and find yourself struggling to say no, try these simple strategies to help you stay on track.
- Don't arrive hungry. Eat a healthy snack before the party so you don’t arrive starving. And prioritise a low GI, high protein breakfast – especially on days when you have a Christmas event. This can help minimise cravings throughout the day.
- Don't hang out by the food. At a party, move around, stand or sit where food isn’t immediately available so you're not as tempted to graze.
- Keep treats out of sight. Don't buy Christmas treats you know you can't resist, or if you do buy them, keep them in hard to reach places in the kitchen so you can't easily access them.
- Eat mindfully. When you do enjoy some party food, practice mindful eating. Listen to your body, eat slowly and stop when you're satisfied, not stuffed.
Foodies can have the best time over Christmas. The holiday is centred around food and there is nothing the Foodie loves more than cooking, eating and experiencing great food. But with this abundance of food, comes some particular challenges with staying on track.
- Eat bite-sized pieces. It's likely that you'll want to try everything when you're at a party. Instead of trying to deny yourself all the delicious food on offer, just enjoy bite-sized pieces of everything.
- Order entree-sized meals. When you're ordering in a restaurant, order entrée-sized meals, or share dishes with friends.
- Try different textures and flavours. When preparing meals and entertaining, focus on vegetable-based dishes and experiment with healthy spins on classics; try making noodles from zucchini, rice from cauliflower and chips from baked vegetables. Use different herbs and spices to add exciting new flavours to dishes too.
- Limit alcohol. At social events, set a limit for how many alcoholic drinks you'll have, and remember to drink a glass or two of water in between each drink.
Socialisers, much like Foodies, can have a blast at Christmas. After all, the holidays are usually spent flitting from one social engagement to another! The challenge for Socialisers during Christmas is that events are often centred around food and alcohol.
- Involve your friends. As a Socialiser, you love people. Use this to your advantage. Challenge a friend or colleague at a party to stick to modest serving sizes with you, or not drink alcohol with you. Or if you're at an event with a friend who you know eats healthily, try and follow their lead.
- Socialise without food or alcohol. Try to plan social events that aren't exclusively about eating and drinking, like a walk in a park or an exercise session outside.
- Manage eating out. Socialising usually means eating out somewhere. If you know where you're going ahead of time, take a look at the menu online and pre-select a healthy meal for yourself. Eat a healthy snack before you arrive as well, so you're not starving when you get there.
- Bank your indulgences. Forgo your indulgences throughout the week and save them up for your night out. That means you can enjoy a dessert, a less-healthy meal, or a glass of wine with friends.
Thinkers tend to go into the party season with a plan, then perhaps overthink it, and end up feeling anxious about their eating decisions. Arming yourself ahead of time can help you stay on track.
- Don't aim for perfection. Try to avoid an all or nothing mindset. Play to your strength of planning, but don't judge yourself too harshly if you don't stick to the plan 100 percent.
- Give your mind a break. With all the thinking and overthinking going on in there, it's a good idea to go for a run, walk or exercise session on the same day as any Christmas party to give your mind some time out.
- Take a breather. If you're at a party and you're feeling stressed about not sticking to your plan, take a moment to yourself to breathe deeply, settle your mind, and re-focus on your healthy eating goals. Accept that 80 percent is more than good enough.
- Reward yourself. Focus on the positives and reward yourself when you achieve goals. Did you say no to another glass of wine at the party last night? Amazing job! Treat yourself to an early Christmas present – get a massage, get your nails done, or buy a new pair of shoes!
Battlers tend to face struggles on two fronts: first, they battle to stay in control around delicious food, and second, they battle with their worrying, overthinking minds. The holidays can be an especially tough time for Battlers who really strive to stick with their healthy habits.
- Practice mindful eating. Temptations are often everywhere during the festive season, so slow down, breathe, and think about whether you're really craving that indulgence. If you do choose to eat it, take your time to enjoy it – chew slowly and savour the taste.
- Distract yourself at a party. If you find yourself overwhelmed with distracting cravings at a party, turn your attention elsewhere. Start a conversation with someone you don't know, or chat to a friend or colleague you haven't spoken to in a while.
- Don't indulge negative feelings. Battlers tend to focus on negative thoughts, especially when you think you've messed up. Instead, try practising gratitude and focusing on positives. For example, rather than thinking "I ate too many high-kilojoule canapés at the party", shift your thinking to "I enjoyed some delicious food at a party where I got to spend time with people I love. And today is a new day!"
- Take control. Offer to bring one or two dishes to your next Christmas party. That way, you can control exactly which ingredients go into the dish and can ensure they align with your eating goals.
Pleasers have a tendency to focus more on what others think rather than focusing on their own journey. Pleasers are socially-oriented people who can thrive around others, so the holidays can be an exciting time for them. However, this Diet Type is also prone to comparison, so keep these tips in mind for Christmas.
- Be around positive influences. You can't always choose the people you socialise with, but when you can, try and surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you to stay on a healthy path.
- Focus on yourself. If someone is telling you about their health achievements, try not to compare your journey to theirs. Everyone is on a different path, and you've achieved great things, too.
- Just say no. Christmas can be stressful enough, and as a Pleaser, you probably find yourself saying "yes" to a lot of things you'd rather not do. When you feel your stress levels rising and energy levels dipping, practice saying "no". This could be for anything from not accepting another dinner invitation, to turning down that second glass of wine.
- Find time to exercise. A Pleaser's worry brain is nearly always switched on, and exercise is a great way to relax, re-focus, and give your mind a break.
Looking for weight loss motivation, dinner inspiration or exercise ideas? Check out the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet blog or read some incredible success stories.