There is no denying we all have a soft spot for the magic affiliated with the big jolly guy in the red and white suit…however despite all the love in the world we would prefer to not end the silly season looking like him! The fact is ‘you are what you eat’ and if you spend the entire silly season stuffing yourself with pudding and mince pies, you are bound to start resembling one. Here we have compiled our top ten tips for avoiding the Christmas weight gain:
- Stock up on fresh produce and a healthy pantry – particularly if you are in Australia at this time of year, the warm weather and abundance of delicious fruit and vegetables makes it a great time to enjoy salads and fresh fruit. Avoid the temptation of eating highly processed food and Christmas treats by keeping it out of the house (at least until the 25th) – out of sight out of mind!!
- Don’t go to the Christmas party hungry – consume a light meal such as a salad or sandwich (made on wholegrain bread) prior to the event to prevent you from overindulging on party food as soon as you arrive. Many party foods are ladened with saturated fat and / or sugar (think party pies, spring rolls and mince pies), which are high in kilojoules but leave you feeling unsatisfied and often result in excessive consumption.
- Eat regular meals – skipping meals will often leave you reaching for the Christmas cake later on so stick to your regular meal times!
- Don’t overindulge in alcohol – we know this is the time of year when we are likely to have a couple of extra champagnes, however it is important to remember that large quantities of alcohol disrupt sleep patterns as well being a significant source of empty kilojoules. Try and maintain at least 3 alcohol free days per week plus alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass
of water – this will help prevent over consumption of alcohol as well as food!
- Make better choices and set yourself a limit prior to arrival – try and steer clear of pastry /deep fried canapés in particular, as well as giving yourself a limit … let’s say four savoury items and one or two sweet treats (I will let you decide on the number) …and make sure you stick to it!
- Maintain your sleep pattern – a late night out at a Christmas party may result in inadequate sleep particularly if it is mid week and you still have to turn up to work tomorrow. In contrast a heavy night of drinking may result in a serious hangover and feeling like spending the whole day in bed. Research has shown less than 6 hours or greater than 8 hours of sleep is associated with weight gain so you should be aiming for 7 hours of sleep a night, even during the silly season!!
- Don’t try and lose weight – if there is one time of the year to NOT try and lose weight…it is Christmas – you are setting yourself up for failure! Christmas is a time to relax and unwind with family and friends, so don’t place additional pressure on yourself by trying to lose weight! If you have a few extra kilos to lose, focus instead on not putting on weight and then use the New Year to set yourself some achievable goals and targets!
- Stay active – while this time of year is undoubtedly one of the busiest, don’t let it interfere with your exercise routine, as it is one of those times we need it the most. It will not only help prevent those extra kilos from creeping on but also tones our muscles and relieves stress which can also often accompany this time of year! If you can’t make it to the gym or your usual exercise activities, up your incidental activity by walking to work, choosing stairs instead of the escalators or power walking to do your Christmas shopping! Every little bit counts!
- Use a smaller plate – it might seem ridiculous but studies have shown people who use a larger plate compared to those who use a smaller plate are more likely to consume more kilojoules. Regardless of the plate size we mentally feel we need to clear the plate (inbuilt from childhood when you weren’t allowed dessert if you didn’t finish everything on your plate), so those
eating from the larger plate may have actually eaten enough before they finished their plate, yet the need to clear the plate results in overeating.
- Enjoy yourself – most importantly allow yourself to enjoy this time of year, don’t set yourself expectations of perfect because chances are your ideals of perfect differ from someone else…and really who cares! Focus on what matters most and what this time of year means to YOU!