Christmas needn’t be a time to gain weight (if you are not aiming to). After all, Christmas day is just one day isn’t it? One day of eating more kilojoules than you need doesn’t lead to weight gain. But festive celebrations may last for up to 60 days, nearly 1/6 year, which makes it difficult to maintain weight goals. The Australian Nutrition Foundation report that Australians put on 0.8–1.5kg during the festive season.
What sabotages your weight goals?
- Loss of eating, exercise and sleep routine.
- Less choice over what you eat.
- Eating higher fat and sugar snacks, such as potato crisps and chocolate.
- Overeating of all foods.
- Consuming high-energy drinks and alcohol.
5 Tips to maintain your weight goals
- Keep to your usual routines as much as possible.
- Nutritious food, movement and sleep support your weight goals.
- Have breakfast at home and base it on whole foods, such as a whole grain cereal with fresh fruit and plain yoghurt or two poached eggs with whole grain toast and wilted spinach.
- Eat lunch and dinner at their usual times when possible, and again base these meals on whole foods.
- Make time for planned or incidental activity in your day e.g. walk from work to a function when possible, or take a walk during your lunch break.
- Aim to have 8 hours sleep on average every night. If you have several evening functions during the week, then plan for some extra sleep on the weekend.
- When possible find out what food is on offer at functions. Will it be cocktail food or a meal, for example? You may decide to have a light meal prior to an evening function such as a salad with some protein from lean meat or poultry, legumes or fish.
- Reduce the temptation to graze on high fat and high sugar snacks, by prioritising whole foods during the day. When we are hungry (true appetite), we will eat whatever is available. Having healthy snacks available will help you keep on track with your weight goals.
- Mindful eating is an essential practice for general wellbeing, as well as your weight goals. Mindful eating includes knowing what your body and mind need, as well as how much is required to satisfy your appetite. Eating for You is based on knowing yourself and your food—this way you can actually eat in a way that best suits you. Monitor how you feel prior to eating, during eating and after you have finished. Limit the temptation to graze at functions by having a plate of food; similar to the amount you would usually eat.
A friend, who has attended 14 Christmas celebrations so far, shared with me, “If I see another piece of chocolate cake, I will pass out.” Listen to your body and mind, you will be surprised to see that your preferred fuel is whole foods, not highly processed high fat and high sugar foods.
- Pace your alcoholic drinks, and avoid sweetened drinks. Mineral water with a slice or lemon or lime is a great option—it’s refreshing and a good way to keep hydrated.
You needn’t throw away your weight goals during the festive season. With some planning and mindful eating you will navigate the festive season with confidence. Base your meals on in-season whole foods—summer is the perfect time for crispy salad vegetables and delicious fruit.
Further reading on weight goals: