Avoiding Christmas weight gain

SUSIE BURRELL
Last updated 12:30 05/12/2013
Mince pies

FESTIVE TREATS: Indulging in a mine pie or three around the holidays is inevitable, just make sure it's not every day.

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If you consider that an extra mince pie a day will leave you with an extra kilogram over a period of just four weeks, it is not difficult to see how the Christmas cheer can really pile on the kilos if we are not careful. So before you completely disregard your regular healthy eating and exercise habits and become victim to several weeks of holiday overindulging, here are some examples of the most common party season habits that can stack the kilos on, and the key ways you can avoid becoming a victim to them.

1) Going to parties hungry

A common mistake made when it comes to party season is overindulging on high-fat pastries, chips and dip which are consumed mindlessly while waiting for the "real" food to be served. Avoid overeating at cocktail events by ensuring you do not arrive starving. Events held late afternoon and early evening pose the biggest issue so try a highly filling food 60-90 minutes beforehand such as a meal replacement shake, apple, protein shake, cheese and wholegrain crackers or a handful of nuts.

2) Ditching the exercise

The warmer weather and longer days presents a perfect opportunity to do more activity, not less. Make it a priority to maintain gym commitments, regular walks and take the kids to the beach, park or organised activities as much as you can to help compensate for the extra food you are likely to be eating.

3) Overindulging too early in the season

While supermarkets have been stocked with Christmas treats for weeks, the truth is that all of the treats and alcohol are really celebrating one day, not two months.

Try and differentiate "special" occasions from run-of-the-mill drinks and parties with work colleagues and acquaintances. This way you can indulge when there is a truly special occasion but keep on track with good habits the rest of the time.

4) Buying too much food

Remember, if food is there, you will eat it. Large Christmas hampers, cupboards stocked with excessive amounts of snack food, chocolates and lollies are a recipe for disaster. Shop in small amounts, purchasing only what you need, try and avoid extra large boxes of chocolates and lollies and give away leftovers to remove temptation after the key holiday days.

5) Stick to a canapé limit

With the average canapé containing 150 calories, you can see how easy it can be to be victim of a complete calorie overload at parties. Limit yourself to just five canapés at any one function and ensure that you eat a soup or salad at some point during the day to compensate for the extra party calories that are found in chips, dip and pastries.

6) Eating everything on offer

A simple question to ask yourself each time the canapés are on offer, "Do I really feel like eating this?" - This simple questioning is often enough to help you control the types and volumes of food you are eating and only indulge if there is something you really like on offer.

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7) Overindulging in alcohol

As is the case with activity, the festive season should not be seen as an excuse to forget your personal limits with your alcohol intake. Try and have two alcohol-free days each week to give your liver a break, drink plenty of water and be aware of high kilojoule mixers such as juice, soft drink and flavoured drinks which can significantly increase the number of kilojoules you are consuming. A great refreshing, low kilojoule alternative is soda or sparkling water with a slice or two of lime or lemon.

8) Letting Christmas treats continue until January

Aim to get back on track with your usual diet and exercise habits by January 2 or before you know it the New Year will have rolled around along with the extra few kilos that crept on throughout summer.

9) Choosing high-fat snacks

While pastry-based treats, cheese and dips can be exceptionally high in fat and kilojoules, the good news is that there is also a range of many lower kilojoules snacks that still taste fantastic. Look for potato chips cooked in olive oil, low-fat dips and crackers and seafood-based snacks.

10) Developing an "all or nothing" attitude to dieting

Rather than mentally writing off the next four weeks in terms of your food intake and activity patterns, constantly remind yourself that Christmas is just one day.

Enjoy good quality, tasty treats in controlled amounts but balance them with nutritious summer foods including salads, seafood and fresh fruits and not only feel better, but remain in control of your weight.

Christmas Calorie Counter

Pesto dip 250cal/1000kJ

Pastry snack 300cal/1200kJ

Mince Pie 150cal/600kJ

Red Rock Deli Chips 250cal/1000kJ

3 mini quiches 200cal/800kJ

2 shortbread biscuits 200cal/800kJ

5 Favourites chocolates 250cal/1000kJ

10 choc almonds 300cal/1200kJ

5 slices salami 210cal/840kJ

- Sydney Morning Herald

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