Christmas...the most wonderful time of the year which is full of carols, family and festive treats! From tasty mince pies to warm mulled wine, it can be incredibly challenging to maintain a healthy diet and avoid gaining extra pounds over the festive season. In fact, an article by Men’s Health noted that the average person will consume a staggering 5,373 calories on Christmas day alone...that’s twice the daily calorie intake recommended for men and three times the amount of calories for women! Whilst we all deserve a treat now and again, this article will give you some tips on how to keep healthy and lose weight over the Christmas period.
It may be surprising for you to hear that alcohol contains a lot of calories - around seven calories per gram to be precise. Over the Christmas holidays, the average Brit consumes 40% more alcohol which can have negative effects on our mental and physical health. For example, drinking alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, artery disease and even some cancers - this is precisely why we should watch our alcohol intake over Christmas so that we can look after our bodies and prevent ourselves from developing health related issues. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a Christmas treat, but if alcohol consumption is an issue for you, here are a couple of suggestions to help reduce your alcohol intake.
Avoiding alcohol over Christmas doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice having fun either as there are plenty of alcohol-free alternatives for you to try, such as:
Of course, you can’t beat a refreshing glass of water and it is important to drink plenty of water in a day to stay hydrated and this will help digest your food better. You should also take care not to have drinks with high levels of sugar - it may be worth checking the nutritional value of a product first.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that an increasing number of Brits are abstaining from alcohol, in fact, in 2019 The Guardian reported that 36% of young people between the age of 16 and 24 don’t drink alcohol, so you shouldn’t feel alone in staying sober. There really is so much about Christmas to enjoy, why not learn more about how to drink less and the benefits that come with it?
Yes, there may be a great deal of exciting TV shows and jolly Christmas films to enjoy sitting on the sofa but taking some time each day to get some fresh air and squeeze in some exercise will help you to lose weight and keep fit.
Start your day right and earn your Christmas breakfast treat with a brisk walk around the block while wishing your neighbours a Merry Christmas. Switch a stuffy afternoon slumped in front of the telly with a refreshing winter walk. Enjoy taking the children out for a ride on their new bikes and scooters. Join your Strictly Stars and have a dance while enjoying Strictly Special!
You don’t need a gym membership to do this either! Take a look at our ‘how to keep fit at home’ blog for some easy workout ideas - why not exercise to some Christmas tunes to incorporate some festive spirit?
You could also suggest to your friends and family that you go for a walk together. Christmas is the perfect occasion for spending time with our loved ones and not only will outdoor activities help us to get active, they can encourage those around us to join in on the fun too!
During Christmas it can be hard to resist the classic ‘pigs in blankets’ or cheese boards but you just need to make sure that you are mindful of your food intake and ensuring that you are enjoying a balanced diet.
A top tip for portion control is to use smaller plates. This will make you feel like you have more food and will be less likely to add too much food to your plate. If you usually enjoy a Christmas buffet, try to include a range of fruits and vegetables as well as any carbohydrates and high-fat foods such as cheese.
There are some small changes you can make to a typical Christmas dinner to make it healthier. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider which will knock off some calories:
Temptation is everywhere at Christmas, which is why it can be useful to plan ahead for meals and set aside some time each day for exercise. For instance, if you know that you are going out for a Christmas meal with friends, you can eat healthier during the day and try to make time for a short walk before you head out. This way, you can try to avoid consuming more calories than the recommended amount and prevent weight gain.
Another great idea is to write a shopping list before you go to a store because it can be so easy to get distracted by all of the deals. You could either buy too many treats and eat more than you’d like in order to use up these items or you simply waste money and end up throwing away what you bought. If you know exactly what you’re shopping for and have also factored in any treats, you can complete your shop quicker and ensure you’ve only bought the essentials.
We also mustn’t forget to schedule time for ourselves to rest and relax. This is vital for our own mental wellbeing and will ensure that we rest where needed. The Christmas period can be very busy and not getting enough sleep can actually lead to weight gain (NHS). It is recommended that adults have between six and nine hours of sleep each night and maintain a regular sleeping pattern.
Keeping a diary to track your progress is a good way to stay motivated. You will be able to see exactly how much exercise you’ve had each day and monitor how much you have been eating. It will be much clearer for you to spot any room for improvements and keep a note of how much weight you are losing along the way.
Losing weight isn’t always easy and we need to really work at it to see results, but if we can look back to where we started and see how we are doing, it can show us that hard work pays off!
It can also be a good idea to let your friends and family know that you are trying to be healthy during Christmas - this way, they will be less likely to buy you too many sweets and treats as they will understand that you’re doing your best to avoid unhealthy foods. They might even try and gift you with something to help you on your journey to losing weight over Christmas, or offer to join you on a winter stroll!
If you’ve noticed that those around you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle, why not try and get them involved too? You can be the change and actively get others on board so you can enjoy a healthier Christmas all together.
No matter what time of year it is, if you live in Dorset and you’re looking for support to lose weight, we’re here to help! You can register or talk to our friendly team today to help guide you on your journey to losing weight. You can even use our Habit Hacker tool to receive bespoke behaviour change techniques which are personal to you!