FROM countless mince pies to a few too many glasses of mulled wine – it's easy to gain weight at Christmas.
And between festive office parties, Christmas lunch or dinner, edible presents and a boozy New Year's Eve – it can be difficult not to pile on the pounds.
And research has shown that most people gain 2lb over the festive season and never lose it.
However, Christmas doesn't need to be synonymous with weight gain – according to top nutritionist Steph Geddes.
Steph reiterates that you can still enjoy all the chocolate and champagne and not put on weight – as long as you stick to some simple rules.
She says: "Enjoy yourself and don’t stress if you feel that you have been overindulging more than usual.
"The most important thing is that you get back on track with your healthy eating as soon as you can and don’t let the indulgences become new habits."
Here Steph takes us through her top six tips to make sure you don't balloon over the festive season…
1. Stick to the portion plate
Most of us don't really think about how much we're eating over Christmas – and shovel down as much turkey and stuff is physically possible.
However, if you want to keep on top of your calorie intake Steph says the easiest thing to do is monitor your portion control of each food group.
She says: "Every time you sit down to a meal try and make it 1/4 plate protein, ¼ plate complex carbohydrates, ½ plate of vegetables and 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats.
Make it 1/4 plate protein, ¼ plate complex carbohydrates, ½ plate of vegetables and 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats
"Cooking at home makes this much more achievable, but during the festive season there is a lot socialising and there’s no reason you can’t try and stick to this when you’re out also.
"If out at a café or restaurant try to order whichever meal seems closest to these portions and don’t be afraid to order extra vegetables or salad on the side if you need to."
2. Remain active
Many people would much rather stay in by a warm fire than venture out into the winter chill to exercise on Christmas day.
But keeping your gym routine on track over the festive season can be crucial when it comes to not piling on the pounds.
Steph says: "Don’t compromise on your usual exercise in the lead up to Christmas either because exercising get those endorphins going which help you to make healthy food choices.
"On Christmas morning, suggest a family walk/cricket match/swim before or after you sit down for a big meal."
3. Meal prep
It might sound like more extra work, but meal prepping through December will help to keep you in shape.
Steph says: "Making sure you are prepared with some healthy meals/ snacks or just ingredients may involve some time and organisation but it is well worth the effort.
"This takes away any excuses that might pop into your head when you’re tired, stressed or busy and means you don’t have to think about what to cook because it’s either cooked already or prepped ready to go.
"Make your freezer your best friend and that way you can keep healthy meals, snacks or even just frozen veggies on hand to whip up a healthy dinner in no time."
4. Keep snacks on hand
Snacking regularly throughout the day can actually aid weight loss and stop you from making unhealthy choices.
Steph says: "This one is a game changer, make sure you are eating healthy nutritious snacks that will sustain you until your next meal and you won’t have the urge to over indulge on less healthy foods.
"I’m talking a small handful of nuts, some veg with nut butter or hummus, protein balls or just a piece of fruit.
"If you have a long lunch scheduled for work then have a snack between breakfast and lunch so that you’re not going into the lunch starving and likely to overeat."
5. Keep an eye on your alcohol
With all the Christmas parties, it can be tricky to avoid knocking back excessive amounts of mulled wine.
However, Steph says staying hydrated can be a simple way to ensure that calorie intake is reduced, without putting a dampener on your festive spirits.
She says: "The best thing you can do is to keep hydrated.
Keeping in mind that trying to have more alcohol free days per week than alcohol days is ideal to keep things balanced
"This means a water in between alcoholic drinks but also choosing drinks that are served with mineral/soda water is helpful.
"Ensuring you’ve eat a good nutritious meal is always a good idea and keeping in mind that trying to have more alcohol free days per week than alcohol days is ideal to keep things balanced."
6. Eat before finger food events
Many Christmas parties are a nightmare when it comes to eating healthily – as they're filled with finger food.
Steph recommends eating something before you go to a bash like this – so you don't end up gorging on all the fatty food and treats available.
Alcoholic drink swaps to help you stay on track during the festive period
Diet guru Terri-Ann Nunns shares her advice on how to enjoy alcoholic drinks without overindulging and the best swaps you can make this Christmas.
1. Swap eggnog for…sloe gin
A glass of eggnog could quite easily exceed 350kcals. Another drink that is equally enjoyable but for different reasons is sloe gin. You can have it warm or on ice but it is still a tasty treat – with much fewer calories.
2. Small glass of desert wine for…glass of sherry
Opting for a glass of Sherry (60 calories) would halve your calorie intake in comparison to a small glass of desert wine (118 calories).
3. Mulled wine made with sugar for…mulled wine made with sweetener
Adding the sugar obviously adds more calories but you can actually use sweetener instead of sugar to achieve that sweet taste without the calories.
4. Large glass of wine for…glass of prosecco
A glass of prosecco is likely to be less than half the calories of a large glass of wine. A large glass of wine is 250ml or a third of a bottle, whereas prosecco is served in smaller glasses, generally serving 125ml.
5. Pint of lager for…a bottle of beer
Swapping a pint of beer for a bottle significantly reduces the volume you will drink and therefore the calories, especially if you plan to have more than one.
6. Gin and tonic for…gin and slimline tonic
By changing your mixer to one that is sugar-free, you can make a significant reduction to your calorie intake.
7. Long Island Iced Tea for…Bloody Mary
If you want to go for a healthier cocktail, choosing something like a Bloody Mary would mean you would consume much fewer calories and you could even hit two of your five a day.
"Finger food events are tricky ones," she says.
"You’re never sure what food will be available (often this type of food is lacking in veggies) and it’s easy to consume more than we would in a meal because it’s difficult to keep track of how much you’ve had.
"So you can either eat a full nutritious meal before you go and politely decline the finger food, or at least eat half of a meal so that you can get plenty of veggies in and then just enjoy two to three items at the event."
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