It may seem impossible to lose weight over the feasting season, but we’ve got just the tips you need to avoid holiday weight gain.
Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many weight-conscious women, they’re anything but merry. That’s because they spend their time navigating a dietary minefield, dodging festive yet fattening foods, like sugar cookies, baked ham, turkey, pie, and buttery mashed potatoes and more. According to research from the British Dietetic Association, we can gain about 2 kg over the four-week Christmas period.
Experts advise against depriving yourself, as you will be feeling frustrated; and eventually you’ll give in, and that one taste of stuffing will lead to a second or third helping. In fact, a recent study in the journal Appetite found that women who followed strict diets were more vulnerable to temptation – and weight gain – than those who indulged on occasion.
Losing weight during the festive season is impractical for most of us. But we can aim to not gain any extra weight, say experts. The trick, of course, is to indulge in moderation. Follow these simple rules for shoring up your willpower and curbing your appetite and you’ll be able to relax and truly enjoy yourself at those seasonal soirees – and develop habits you can use all year long.
Plan active parties
Holiday plans can mean a lot of sitting and eating which means you are not burning a lot of energy during these events. Instead of sitting and eating, try something different with your loved ones. When you’re socialising it’s also easy to become distracted and lose track of exactly how much you’re eating and drinking. Alcohol can also take away our willpower to say “no” to food. So, instead of basing Christmas gettogethers around eating and drinking, plan events that involve some physical activity, such as bowling, roller-skating, futsal, soccer, beach volleyball, etc.
Monitor food intake
Experts say that an extra 10 minutes of walking a day is usually enough to avoid weight gain. So weigh yourself at the start of the Christmas season and then each week, so you can increase activity and cut back on treats if your weight starts to creep up. Also, try to fit in some extra exercise. The Heart Foundation recommends you aim for at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Control how much you eat at parties and dinners by filling your plate just once. Don’t graze because the calories just add up, and avoid second helpings.
Keep away from the buffet
If you are at a holiday party with a buffet food table, don’t catch up with family and friends around the food table. If you are near the food, it becomes easier to mindlessly grab handfuls of snacks or extra servings of food while you are talking. These mindless calories can add up quick and can promote easy weight gain. So, it would be best to go to a room where access to the food table isn’t easy. However, if you are at a party where they are serving food family style, eat your food slowly and wait at least 15 minutes before taking seconds on anything.
This can help from over eating too much. Giving your body adequate time for your stomach to send a signal to your brain when you’re full can lower excessive food intake. Another tip to help with weight loss during the holidays is to put the food away after everyone is done instead of leaving it out. That way you won’t be tempted to eat food even though you’re not hungry because it’s out of sight.
Start sipping skinny
With just 123 kcal for a 145-ml glass, wine is a calorie bargain compared to other alcoholic beverages, like gin and tonic (164 kcal), buttered rum–spiced cider (275 kcal), and eggnog (321 kcal). Plus, you’re not as likely to guzzle a glass of wine the way you might a mixed drink. If you must have a cocktail, just have one before switching to a lower-calorie drink, like iced tea or sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime.
Regardless of the drink you choose, don’t pour yourself a glass until you sit down to dinner. Research from Colorado State University found that people who sipped wine with their evening meal every night for six weeks didn’t put on any weight.
Set goals this Christmas
If you are going out to dinner or have a work function, eat lighter for a few days leading up to that event. If you’re going to a party at someone’s home, take a salad or fruit platter so you know there’ll be a healthier food choice. If you’re going out to dinner, have an entree or a dessert with your main meal – and not both. Your goal does not have to be about losing weight.
Maybe it will be recognising you need to drink less soft drinks or alcohol, or fill up with more fruits and vegetables, or eat less chocolate and cake. Decide that you want to avoid gaining weight and then come up with some practical strategies to achieve that goal this Christmas. Remember that catching up with people is about the conversations and the company, not about having to eat and drink too much.
Putting the brakes on weight gain at Christmas
✗ Don’t stretch your Christmas celebrations out for several weeks –stick to a day or two of indulgence only.
✗ Don’t forget to count alcohol when you are adding up your calorie intake.
✗ Don’t have a second helping at Christmas functions.
✗ Don’t pile your plate too high with food.
✓ Fill up on salad and just have small portions of creamy dishes, meat, pasta and only a taste of dessert.
✓ Make the most of long days and plan outdoor activities such as walking, futsal, badminton, tennis or swimming at the beach.
✓ During school holidays, get your children to join in – either go for a long walk or a swim together.
✓ Get a pedometer and track your steps to ensure that you reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
✓ Aim to do an extra 10 minutes of walking each day.
✓ Weigh yourself each week. If you’ve put on a kilo or so, use that as a warning sign that you need to eat less for the next few days or week.