2 December 2021 · MGM News
MGM Wellness | Surviving The Silly Season
If you’ve found it hard to maintain weight and stick to healthy choices over the Christmas holidays in the past you are not alone. Overconsumption of those ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks is common over Christmas. And this often comes at a price. On average Australians gain 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period. One to two kilograms might not sound like much but researchers have identified that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost.
Holidays and special celebrations are a wonderful time to bring people together and food is often a focal point. There are many ways to enjoy get-togethers and not totally lose track of your healthy living goals. Focus on the occasion and being with friends and family, not only on the food and drinks!
Maintain your weight throughout the holidays by being careful about your food choices, not only at parties & events but every day. Don’t try to lose weight over the Christmas season. Instead, aim to maintain your current weight.
Here are some great tips to help limit overindulging at parties and celebrations and avoid significant weight gain.
- Eat something before you leave home – if you arrive at a function hungry, you’ll be more likely to overeat.
- Instead, eat something healthy before you go like a low GI snack (i.e. yoghurt, fruit)
- Account for ‘extras’ that you may consume at the event and plan your day’s meals/snacks accordingly.
- Stand away from the food – people who stand closer to the food are more likely to graze.
- Listen to your stomach – eat slowly and stop when you are satisfied, not full.
- Limit or avoid deep-fried finger foods such as spring rolls, sausage rolls and highly processed meats such as sausages.
- Choose lower kilojoule options when you can.
- For canapes and nibbles – go for small amounts. Try one of each and eat slowly and enjoy!
- For buffet-style – have more of fewer foods, rather than little of lots! You are more likely to eat less overall.
- Keep your eye on portion sizes. It’s often not what you eat, but how much that can lead to overindulgence at any time of the year.
Foods to Enjoy
- Vegetable sticks, pretzels, rice crackers
- Hummus, beetroot, tzatziki dip
- Sandwiches, frittatas
- Fruit salad with yoghurt
Foods to Limit
- Creamy dips
- Pies, sausage rolls, spring rolls etc.
- Chips, corn chips
- Lollies, candy canes, chocolates
- Cakes and slices with cream
Alcohol is high in kilojoules (almost double that of protein and carbohydrate) and low in nutrients. When consumed in large amounts it can lead to weight gain and replace nutritious foods. Unfortunately, it doesn't fill you up, and can lead to overeating! Our bodies use alcohol as the first fuel supply – therefore there is the risk of storing the energy from food (particularly fat) eaten when drinking.
Strategies to help manage alcohol intake:
- Drink from a small wine glass and sip slowly – don’t be fooled by a large glass!
- Alternate drinks with water, diet soft drink, soda water.
- Have a large glass of water before you start – we often drink first drink quickly because of thirst, especially on hot days/evenings.
- Aim for 4 alcohol-free days per week – save these days for weekends/parties.
- Choose diet mixers with spirits and pour them into a long tall glass to dilute.
- Choose low-fat snacks when drinking, i.e. veggie sticks, low-fat dips, high fibre crackers etc.
- Be careful of getting in ‘shouts’ with friends – you can end up drinking more than planned.
- Avoid pre-mixed drinks – they are often high in sugar! 2 cans of premixed cola = 27 squares of chocolate!!
- Avoid salty snacks – they increase thirst.
Keep Holiday Fit
Regular exercise not only will give you more energy to cope with the stress of the holiday bustle, but it can also help to compensate for some of your food overindulgences!
- Strive for at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate to vigorous activity per week.
- Make physical activity part of the holiday fun to provide a balance to eating. Plan a hike, bike ride, swimming etc. on your trips away.
- No time to get to the gym? How about walking to the grocery store when you only have a few items to pick up? Carry your groceries as a substitute for lifting weights. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Every bit of physical activity you can sneak in counts. If you can’t get out of the house, do indoor exercise while watching your favourite TV show or chatting on the phone – squats, stretches, legwork, sit-ups, push-ups, treadmill….the possibilities are endless.
In summary, the most important factors that will help avoid that post-Christmas bulge include:
- Keep up daily healthy eating habits.
- Avoid going to parties/social occasions hungry.
- Choose small amounts of party foods and enjoy them.
- Stand away from the food, and listen to your stomach!
- Limit alcohol consumption during the week – save it for the weekend. Make smart choices when drinking. Avoid binges, and
- Continue the regular exercise and increase incidental activity.