Yes, you can enjoy the festive season without piling on the Christmas weight. Even better news – it doesn’t mean having to diet.
In fact, according to the British Dietician Association, the average person consumes this many extra calories per day in the lead-up to Christmas (equating to around 5lb by January)!
'There are so many opportunities at this time of year to overeat and feel bad, however, you can still enjoy the party without feeling rubbish the next morning,' says Marina Newington, nutritionist and health coach. All it takes is a little know-how from our experts to avoid Christmas weight gain.
How to avoid Christmas weight gain
It can be helpful to view Christmas time as a series of events, rather than a free pass to indulge throughout the entire month.'There might be a few more celebrations than your average month, but where many people run into trouble is through daily excess,' says nutritionist Kim.
'Enjoy yourself when it’s time to celebrate and in between, aim to maintain your usual healthy lifestyle to avoid Christmas weight gain.'
Get your diary out and plan the key events that you’ll want to enjoy. Then, in the days around them, make sure you eat well and exercise (opens in new tab), so you don't feel guilty on the indulgent days.
Avoid early Christmas supermarket offers
The festive season means supermarket aisles are laden with tempting treats. However, it’s best to avoid them until the big day.
'Shops often stock Christmas foods (opens in new tab) months in advance. It can be tempting to take advantage of offers, but will it last until Christmas? Or are you likely to tuck in before?' says Kim.
'I know I don’t have the willpower so I have my food delivered just a few days before Christmas. Plus, booking your food delivery also avoids supermarket stress!' An added bonus if you ask us.
Hitting the shops or heading out for a brisk winter walk are great ways to burn off the mince pies (opens in new tab) and avoid Christmas weight gain. The average Brit walks a total of 20 miles when doing their Christmas shopping across the festive period, which equates to roughly 1,500 calories, according to a study by Udozi and YouGov.
However, make sure you’re carrying a healthy snack (opens in new tab) when you shop, in order to avoid succumbing to a calorific gingerbread latte or sugary festive drink (opens in new tab) when out and about.
'We’re all guilty of reaching for quick, sugary fixes when we’re on the go, but these bursts of energy lead to a sugar crash later in the day,' says Bradley, personal trainer. 'Opt for a nutrient-dense snack, such as almonds, which will help you feel less fatigued (opens in new tab) in the long run,' he advises.
Try a Christmas alcohol swap
It’s the holidays, and you’re bound to want a boozy Christmas drink (opens in new tab). So, make some clever switches to save on calories rather than going cold turkey.
‘It’s a good idea to avoid the more sugary drinks like mojitos and creamy ones like eggnog,’ says Marina. Vodka, lime and sodas and slimline G&Ts are your best bet.
'By changing your mixer to one that is sugar-free, you will significantly reduce your calorie intake,' says Ro, nutritionist and dietician. Remember to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to stay properly hydrated (opens in new tab) and hangover free (opens in new tab).
Be clever with Christmas canapés
'Firstly, set an intention before going to the party, of whether or not you will eat dinner after the Christmas canapés (opens in new tab). If the answer is yes and you do plan to have dinner afterwards, only have two or three canapés,' says Marina.
'If the canapés are your dinner, however, you can eat more, but be conscious of how many you have all together. Ask yourself if the amount is bigger than a dinner portion. If it’s coming close, then stop.'
Stick to the canapés that are based around proteins like beef, fish or chicken and veggies. 'Avoid the breaded ones, or tartlets and quiches. Plus, the deep-fried canapés and ones with a lot of cheese,' she says.
Say these three words: 'No, thank you'
The secret weapon to weight loss? Just say ‘No, thank you’. 'Refusing food is steeped in emotional meaning both for you and for the host,' says Ailsa, nutritional therapist.
However, we need to remove the guilt associated with turning down foods when we’re watching our weight. 'It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t want to stuff yourself to the gunnels with mince pies, and it doesn’t mean anything about how you feel about the host,' explains Ailsa. 'You just don’t want the sausage rolls!' Once you’ve hit your limit, feel free to politely decline.
Christmas baking with kids
But, it's not just us adults who like to indulge during this time of year - there are an incredible amount of extra sweets, cakes and chocolates around for children too.
But, with so many seasonal treats around it's actually a great time to steer them in the direction of healthier options too.
Lauren Prentice, founder of child's cookery school Nutritional Ninjas (opens in new tab) says, 'Christmas is the perfect time to introduce children to new foods that they haven't tried before."
However, many of our favourite treats such as gingerbread (opens in new tab), mince pies (opens in new tab) and Yule chocolate log are not particularly healthy, particularly if they're bought from the shops.
Lauren suggests, 'So that no one misses out on the best that Christmas has to offer, why not try baking your own with the kids (opens in new tab)? That way you can always control exactly how much sugar and other naughty ingredients go in.'
She continued, 'By getting involved with the cooking, children get a great understanding of exactly what goes into their food. And if you're making sweet treats, it's also the perfect opportunity to discuss how everything is OK in moderation.'
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