How to avoid weight gain this Christmas, Without missing out on the festive fun
The elves are out, the tree is up and the smell of mulled wine and gingerbread fills the air. It can only mean one thing: Christmas.
It’s time to relax, let go and enjoy a little bit of festive fun.
But if you’ve worked hard all year to achieve your weight goals, the holiday season can be challenging. Yes, you want to enjoy the festive season; to eat, be merry and have fun. But you also don’t want to undo all the hard work you’ve done.
There is a solution.
Avoiding weight gain over Christmas AND enjoying the holiday season is possible, with a few simple strategies that let you have your Christmas cake and eat it.
Why The Holidays Are The WORST For Weight Gain
So why is the festive season such a challenge for those of us who watch our weight? It’s not just the selection boxes and advent calendars. There’s a little more to it than that.
More Food – Food plays a huge part in our culture’s festive celebrations. Not only do we stop following our usual eating plan, but we tend to increase the volume of food we consume by bingeing on sweet treats and adding second servings “because it’s Christmas”.
More Sugar – Festive foods are often high fat, sugar-loaded and high calorie.
Less Activity – We’re less likely to stay active over the Christmas holidays, swapping that early morning run for a PJ day instead.
More Stress – Even if Christmas is “smaller” this year due to social distancing, planning and executing the perfect Christmas can be stressful. Stress not only makes us want to comfort eat, but it can slow your metabolism down too.
More Alcohol – Whether its mulled wine, Christmas cocktails or crates of beer, many people find their alcohol consumption increases over the festive period. I would hasten to guess that this year will be worse than ever as people are staying and not worrying about driving. Those “self-pour” measures can be treble or quadruple what you would be served in a bar.
Less Routine – Routines help us to stay healthy, keep control over our eating and on-track with daily exercise. At Christmas, most routines go out of the window. Does anyone ever know what day of the week it is between Christmas and New Year?
So as you can see, there’s more to holiday weight gain than advent calendars and Christmas dinner.
5 Simple Strategies To Keep Your Weight Under Control This Christmas
But the good news is that there are some simple strategies you can put in place to make sure you enjoy the festivities without falling victim to the holiday weight gain.
1: Take Away Temptation
One of the huge challenges at Christmas is just how many sugary “treat” foods find their way into our lives. There’s the advent calendars, the selection boxes, festive Starbuck’s hot chocolate and those Christmas biscuits you baked with the kids.
It seems everywhere you look, there’s something sweet to tempt you. While a mini Mars Bar might not seem like a big problem, all the little snacks can soon add up.
So what can you do about it? Take away the temptation. Avoid displaying any sweets or treats where you can obviously see them. It’s much harder to limit your sugar intake when you’ve got a candy cane dangling right in front of your eyes.
If you find a tub of Celebrations or Heroes has found its way into your home, keep the lid on! Put the tub somewhere difficult to get to, so you’ll only eat one when you make the conscious choice and effort to do so. There’s nothing more dangerous than a bowl full of tiny bite-sized chocolates on your coffee table!
2: Eat Consciously
Overeating is one of the biggest problems you’ll face this Christmas. We fill out plates and stuff our bellies – ignoring our body’s cues for fullness and satisfaction.
Just by listening to your body and responding when it says it has had enough, you can easily avoid extra weight gain this holiday season, without limiting or restricting your fun.
How do you eat consciously? Just pay attention. Listen to what your body is telling you and stop eating when you’ve had enough. It’s ok to leave food on your plate and it’s ok to refuse a second serving. It’s even ok to change your mind halfway through a helping!
3: Stay Active
With all the Christmas movies on TV, it can be so tempting to curl up on the sofa and binge watch Netflix for hours.
But a lack of activity not only affects your mood and health, but it will contribute to your holiday weight gain too.
By staying active you can keep up the good work you’ve been doing all year, reduce your stress levels and hit the new year with a healthy routine still established.
If your usual 5k run doesn’t appeal thanks to the cold, wet, miserable weather, consider changing it up a little over the break. Try out some new exercise videos on YouTube, get those weights back out from under the bed or even hit the gym.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you keep active and keep moving. For some home-based exercise, ideas check out my previous blog post here.
4: Choose Your Christmas Tipple Carefully
Everyone loves a little tipple at Christmas, but the increase in alcohol consumption can play a big part in any holiday weight gain.
But don’t worry – I’m not here to ruin your festive fun! You can still enjoy a drink over Christmas, without piling on the pounds just by choosing your beverage carefully.
Creamy drinks like Irish coffee is packed full of sugars, fats and calories. Whereas spirits, such as gin, vodka and whiskey are much lower in calories.
A word of warning though, choosing spirits can help keep your alcohol calories down, but not if you drink them with high sugar mixers! Soda water is a good zero-calorie choice which you can add lemon or lime juice to.
Diet or sugar-free soft drinks are low in calories but they are packed full of artificial sweeteners that are not good for your health so best avoided or kept to a minimum.
Christmas isn’t always frolics and fun. If the organisation of it all can be a very stressful time. You’ve got to buy the presents, plan the meal, prep the turkey, decorate the tree and keep the kids entertained while they’re off school etc.
Stress is no good for anything – but it’s certainly not good for your weight. When we’re stressed many of us turn to food to self soothe. We comfort eat. And we gain weight.
Keep your stress levels under control by making sure you take a little time to yourself. Plan a short meditation into your daily holiday routine, take ten minutes to relax and read your favourite book or blog, have a bath, take a walk or do whatever it is that keeps your stress levels down.
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