No matter how disciplined you are with food throughout the year, you’d have to be super-human to resist that extra mince pie or generous serving of crispy roast potatoes on 25 December.
And that’s not taking into account the endless canapés, glorious spiced Glühwein and mega-sized tins of chocolate we love to indulge in around Christmas time. By the time January arrives, our jeans are just a tad tighter than usual - and the washing machine definitely isn’t to blame this time.
Keeping the festive calories from turning into permanent bulge can easily be prevented, without ‘lose weight fast’ diets that tend to boomerang weight back on just as quickly. Here are ten simple (and healthy) ways to beat Christmas weight gain.
1. Set realistic goals
Vague ‘lose weight’ resolutions for the New Year have no real direction, meaning motivation will soon wane. If your goal is to get back to your weight before the festive season, make sure you break down the process in stages, such as dropping a pound a week. Seeing these little victories will give you the confidence and motivation to keep going.
2. Reduce portion sizes
We can easily become accustomed to huge plates of turkey (and all the trimmings) at Christmas time, so cutting down the portions after party season can be a tricky affair. Smaller plates not only mean automatic portion control, but they make meals look bigger than they really are. Filling half your plate with vegetables or salad is a great way to get all the vitamins, minerals and fibre your body needs, too.
3. Curb the alcohol
Just because party season is over, doesn’t mean the drinks stop flowing. If you’re partial to a glass of wine, bear in mind that one small glass of red is 133 calories (the same as a standard packet of crisps). If you choose to have a drink, go for a vodka, lime and soda (76 calories for a single). The bottom line when it comes to losing weight, however, is to ditch the alcohol and drink lots of water.
4. Have a ‘cheat day’
Giving yourself one day to lighten the calorie-counting means that you’ll find it easier to resist carb-laden treats throughout the week. Celebrity nutritionist Rachel Beller calls it a ‘diet vacation’, explaining to Women’s Health: “It’s not an invitation to binge, so you shouldn’t plan to pig out all day long. Organise it around a meal, or just say that you’ll be more relaxed about your lunch or dinner.”
5. Pump up the protein
Eating small amounts of lean meat, chicken, fish and egg can keep you feeling fuller for longer. Research has shown that overweight adults who eat eggs for breakfast lose 65% more weight than those who eat a bagel of equal calories. If you’re feeling peckish during the day, swap the chocolatey snacks and replace with some lean ham or a can of tuna.
6. Count to ten
It takes about ten minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full after eating. So before you cave in and go for that cheesecake after dinner, take a ten minute time-out. Eating slowly and mindfully can also give your body time to register the food in your stomach - you may well be more full than you thought you were.