If you’re like us, you’ve already fallen into the ‘Christmas Eating Mode’. For me, it started with the Late Late Toy Show (Pringles and jellies were my downfall). I did try to make up for it by doing a two hour walk the next day, but I can notice my habits start to slip.
Some of you may already be ploughing through the tins of Quality Street or Roses appearing around the office. Others have left their runners in the cupboard, using the cold weather as an excuse to not exercise. You may think that it’s easy for those of us who work at Motivation to stay focused, lean and fit over the festive period, but we’re all human. The truth is that we can find ourselves delving into the crisps, missing workouts or drinking too much alcohol. But if we don’t watch it, we can easily consume 3,000 extra calories over the Christmas period (leading to a gain of around 4-5lbs), which then take weeks to lose again during the most depressing month of the year.
10 Tips on How NOT To Put On Weight At Christmas
This year, follow our simple, clever techniques to avoid those unwanted pounds – how not to put on weight. With some careful consideration, you could sail through Christmas, enjoy it (even more) and find yourself on the other side, in January, weighing exactly the same as when you went into it. Now, I know you know that it’s worth it – so, go on, give yourself the chance to feel so much better this January. Think back to previous ones, when you felt overfull, unfit and lethargic. Don’t you deserve better? All it takes is a small amount of effort for a huge result.
- Fill up on Protein: We need an eating method that satisfies us and fills us up, meaning it’s easier to not go off the rails or overeat later on. On Christmas day have a protein and nutrient-packed breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs or omelette and avocado or greens (check out our fab omlette recipe). These offer fewer calories than a fry up or sugar-loaded snacks and more likely to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel for the day. Also, fill up on some healthy food before you head out to a party – that way, you won’t be desperate to eat, and less likely to dive for the fried or sugary treats on the buffet table.
- Balance is the key: The Christmas break is a time to rest, recuperate and spend time with family whilst also maintaining a bit of balance in terms of health and fitness. Keeping your eye on the ball won’t just help your waistline – it will help you to feel more sprightly to better enjoy the celebrations, plus will keep your mood more even tempered (sometimes necessary when in the company of ‘tricky’ relatives). The trick is to eat little and often (and to eat protein every time). And to realise that if you do overindulge, you can pull it back for a day or so to balance things out. Most importantly, don’t avoid your Motivation appointments during this time as they will help you to keep a check on things and to know when you are overdoing it .You’ll gain so much from that appointment as your weight loss consultant will give you a much-needed steer in the right direction to help sustain the momentum and, ideally, to not gain weight over Christmas.
- Be Alcohol Savvy: Choose low alcohol wines – the lower the alcohol, the fewer the calories, plus the less likely a nasty hangover (with associated munchies) the next day. Prosecco has a lower alcohol content than champagne, and it’s cheaper. If you’re a beer drinker, consider alternating regular beer with non-alcoholic ones (my favourite is Erdinger which is also isotonic and has added B vitamins which are great for energy levels). Spirit drinkers, just be wary what you mix with – a classic gin and tonic is also pretty low calorie, but tonic water is laced with a surprising amount of sugar. One serving will add 21 grams to your daily diet, which is just about the 25 gram per day limit suggested by the World Health Organisation. If you can’t break with tradition, go for diet tonic or use club soda instead, which has zero calories and zero sugar. Most importantly, make sure you have some alcohol-free days (important for your liver, cancer risk, weight and mental health too!). Read our blog on alcohol and weight loss.
- Choose your Indulgence in Advance: Okay, so you’re going to deviate away from your programme at times, but instead of thinking of yourself as ‘on’ or ‘off’ your weight loss programme, think of dimming the switch. For instance, dim it down by enjoying a special treat (i.e., a cocktail or some pate), but then dial it back up by adding in a healthy behaviour (such as a brisk thirty minute walk). And don’t have two treats – try to stick to one at any given time, which forces you to make a choice (eg. I can enjoy once mince pie or else have two small glasses of white wine (similar calories). Decide which one wins and try to plan this in advance rather than treating it as a spur-of-the-moment thing. For me, an indulgence is a bag of Taytos, which I’d take any day over chocolate, but one way to have the crisps AND the wine is to have Motivation’s delicious BBQ Zippers, which I always keep in the house.
- Don’t Forget Water: Many people reduce their water intake at this time of year but it’s one of the worst things to do because the more water you drink, the better your appetite control (plus your metabolism will operate better) so guzzle whatever water takes your fancy – water or still, it doesn’t matter. Better still, ‘dress up’ your water with slices of cucumber, sprigs of mint or fresh strawberries – you can almost ‘trick’ your brain into thinking you’re having a cocktail – one with with zero calories! Being adeqately hydrated will also help you avoid that big afternoon slump, and the banging headache, and will reduce calories at the same time. Listen to more reasons to drink water in our brilliant podcast .
- Keep Moving: Forget the gym (unless you really love going). Instead, make activity fun. Go out with the family for a walk after lunch, get on the dance floor at parties, grab 15 minutes to do a workout video, or play some squash during the downtime. The exercise won’t just burn calories, it will help to reduce stress, too. Find out how to boost your motivation to exercise during the colder months.
- Enjoy what you Eat and Eat Mindfully: It’s important to make yourself meals that you’re excited to sit down and eat. Savour each bite and make a conscious effort to slow down and experience the flavour and texture of the food you’re eating. Make sure you are really enjoying your food. Savour every bite and flavour. Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls to give yourself some time to chew slowly. You’ll enjoy it more, plus your brain will have a chance to let your body know when you’re full. if you’re at a buffet, put any food you’re eating on a plate. This will help you keep track of and avoid the mindless eating we all succumb to when there’s food everywhere. Download our free e-book ‘How Mindful Eating Helps Weight Loss’.
- Be Snack Savvy
- Swap salty peanuts, that encourage you to drink more, for unsalted fresh nuts.
- Eat 70% cocoa dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.
- Olives are full of good fats and are not calorific – a brilliant snack with drinks!
- Take the icing off your portion of Christmas cake for fewer calories.
- Just eat the bottom half of a mince pie or sandwich – you’ll be just as satisfied
- Make sure you’ve bought plenty of protein snacks to have to hand over the festive period – I usually buy in some extra boxes of bars and snacks as a healthier go-to over this time as it’s usually when cravings are at an all-time high.
- Remove the Guilt: When you let yourself have it without guilt and worry, you can find that stop button comes more naturally (just look at children eating – they sometimes leave jellies in the pack or a half-eaten packet of crisps – they don’t do guilt! If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up about it. Realise how you feel after stuffing yourself and make a promise to do better the next day. It’s about consciously observing how you feel so if you learn exactly what your limits are by eating too much, that’s not a bad thing.
- Enjoy the Christmas Dinner: If you eat healthily most of the time, you can certainly let go on Christmas day. Christams dinner is actually not that unhealthy when you consider the lean turkey and lots of vegetables. It’s usually the dessert and chocolates after that does the damage. But enjoy those too. Go for a brisk walk Stephen’s Day and try to pull back on overeating over those few days between then and New Year’s so that you feel healthy, fit and well rested.
Happy Christmas everyone…and here’s to an exciting 2020 ahead!