A new survey by Obesity Australia has revealed that nearly half of all Aussie adults admit to gaining around 2.7kgs during the festive season. The survey also reported that the gained weight is rarely lost.
Bigger portion sizes, along with increased alcohol intake, less movement and more sweet treats are generally the causes of weight gain during this time of year.
Its important to remember, the festive season is a time for celebrating good food with family and friends and it is possible to maintain your weight whilst fully being involved!
There are no secrets or quick fixes; instead focusing on balanced eating and moderation can really make a difference.
To make sure you have the best of both worlds, here are my tips to help you maintain your weight over Christmas whilst still enjoying the festivities:
Know the calorie loaders
While eating too much over all will lead to an intake of excess calories, there are some foods, which are generally add-ons and if portions aren’t watched, can bump up calorie intake, for example:
- A few dollops of mayonnaise or gravy added to salads and meats
- Rum balls, dried fruit and chocolates post dessert
- Fatty parts of roasted meats – eg crackling and stuffing
- Cream, custard, brandy butter and ice cream added to desserts
- Snacking on a handful of roasted nuts, dips with cheese and crackers, while waiting for the main meal
Alternate water and alcohol
This is not a new tip but it’s tried and true and deserves a mention! When we alternate water with an alcoholic drink, it can help to cut our alcohol intake by half which saves not only a lot of calories but also keeps us hydrated helping to reduce being left with a hangover. I would also encourage having some alcohol free days over the festive period. This doesn’t mean having to miss out, pick up some low sugar non-alcoholic drinks such as kombucha or flavoured sparkling water to enjoy instead.
Start your day with movement
Before your plans can get derailed, move your body! Having a routine can not only make you more likely to keep on track with exercise but can also give more purpose and structure to your days. Exercise will not only help you maintain your weight but can also help to ward off holiday fatigue and give you a boost of endorphins! If you are just not a morning person and have no plans at night, try ending your day with a night walk.
Keep food simple
When you are in control of your meals, make the most of it and keep food simple. Aim for ½ plate low-starch vegetables, ¼ plate lean protein, ¼ plate starchy carbs and ½ – 1 tbsp. healthy fats. For example a leafy salad with leftover turkey, roasted sweet potato and avocado or a tempeh, avocado and salad wrap, yum!
Aim for ‘less is more’
How many times have you loaded up your plate only to half way in, start to feel full and realise you have been the victim of eyes bigger than belly? This year, when plating up meals, aim for less rather than more and know you can go back for seconds if still genuinely hungry. It is very likely you will find you are satisfied by the initial serve and don’t feel a need for more.
Opt for quality not quantity
This is especially true when it comes to sweets. Instead of eating sweet treats because they are there but you don’t necessarily enjoy them, choose which sweets to enjoy and have them in moderation. This is a much better way to still enjoy your favourite sweets but not have them impact weight. This may also mean not eating sweets everyday, instead stick to moderation and make it count.
Entering the festive season with a restrictive mindset such as ‘I can’t have this’ or ‘I am on a diet’ can not only lead to less enjoyment but can also make it harder to balance your eating. It is well understood that restriction leads to overeating, as a way of compensating for the restriction and it’s a vicious cycle. Instead, go into the festive season knowing everything is on the table and you can enjoy everything. With this mindset there will be less desire to overeat because you are not being deprived.