Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

There is no shortage of opportunities to over-indulge during the holiday season…

The suggestion that this time of year presents more challenges when it comes to our healthy eating resolve is not just a whimsical idea, it’s backed by research in psychology and behavioural sciences.

We know that when presented with many options, people tend to eat more. This doesn’t even take into account alcohol’s effect of lowering our inhibitions or interfering with our judgments about portion sizes not to mention the calorie content of alcohol.

On average people gain about 500g during holidays. At first, 500g doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but the vast majority of people won’t turn around and lose that weight once the holidays are over; five to ten years worth of holidays later and you’re looking at an extra 10kg of fat.

Avoiding Weight Gain Over The Holidays Is Simple But Not Easy

Here’s the good news. With a few tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the best that the season has to offer without feeling deprived or out of control.Nothing happens by accident, and ultimately you are in control of your holiday eating. You will have to make an effort if your goal is to stay on track. No blaming others for the dessert they brought or served, no blaming your mother-in-law or sister because you didn’t want to offend them by saying no to second helpings!

Here is what you can do……

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals as a strategy to keep your intake of kilojoules or calories low rarely works unless you’ve got the discipline of a monk…. More often than not, it back fires by increasing the likelihood over-eating later on. It’s biology: when you are starving, and there is food – you will eat!

Moderate alcohol intake

Alcoholic drinks are fattening – period. A small glass of wine (120ml) can have up to 600 kJ and you’d just be getting started. You can cut back on your alcohol kilojoules by choosing light beersor doing a white wine spritzer or make sure there is a glass of water in between for each alcoholic drink.


We do not need three-course meals!Try and skip these all together as they’re typically loaded with kilojoules and often only serve to give people something to do whilst they chit-chat. One chicken wing has about 400 kilojoules and that’s before any dipping sauce. Don’t be afraid of a few fresh vegetables or cut up fruit.

Eating is best seen as a budget. If you want to try a couple of “extra’s” you need to factor it into your intake budget [remember, a few of these parties over the month add the kilojoules add up quickly!].

Use smaller plates

Nothing could be this easy right? Smaller plates give the illusion that you have more food in front of you than if the same serving of food was on a dinner plate. Unless you’re a master at stacking, most will simply put less food on a smaller plate, also known as forced portion control.

Out of sight, out of mind.!

Do not hang out at the table where the food is. Get a serving if you wish and then mingle with the guests on the other side of the room. If presented with variety, and more importantly, ease of selection, people will simply eat more.

Be assertive

Don’t feel you have to say yes every time food or drink is offered – don’t feel guilty about offending the host. Being a people pleaser doesn’t keep the weight in check. A simple ‘no thank you’ will suffice or leave some food on your plate and say you’re still working on it.

Leave what you don’t want to finish

Truth be told, some of us never learn how to do this. Even when we knew it is past the point of enjoyment, we simply clean the plate. As the saying goes, you should always leave wanting more; stop before you pass the point of saturation.

The best defence is a good offence

Have a small snack before leaving for the party, ideally something with fibre and/or protein to help curb your appetite. Simply do not to go to a party hungry. Try..

2 tomatoes slice up with some balsamic vinegar

a cup of vegetable soup (made with real vegetables…)

100g container of fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese with some vegetable crudite

Make allowance

Can you eat and drink whatever you want to, as much as you want to, whenever you want to and not worry about health or weight gain? Maybe, if you’re training like Chad Le Clos when he was gearing up for the Olympics but for the average Jane, unlikely. So, if you know you’re a dessert person and really want a piece of cake, skip the bread roll and butter, or only take one starch – does anyone really need roasted potato and the sweet potatoes and rice with gravy?

Back on track

Remember, no one meal or one holiday season is going to break your efforts if you don’t want it to. If you ‘indulge’ more than you plan to, get back on track the next day!

Happy Holidays!

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