How to not put on weight this Christmas: 11 tips and tricks

how to not put on weight this Christmas

There’s no need to emerge from the festive season pounds heavier. Here’s how to have a lovely time, yet avoid putting on weight this Christmas

We all eat and drink too much at this time of year. I know I do.

The average person eats 6000 calories on Christmas Day, according to the British Dietetic Association. (The recommended daily allowances are 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.) All those extra calories can end up settling where you don’t want them to: on average, Brits put on 5lb (2kg) over Christmas.

But there are ways to avoid having to tackle extra poundage in January.

Through my work as a health journalist, and my own experience of sticking to my goal weight for two years, I’ve picked up a few secrets along the way. So here’s how to enjoy Christmas – and yes, still eat your favourite festive foods – without putting on weight. It involves a bit of planning, and making a few changes to your Christmas carousing.

(Now I just need to make sure that I follow my own advice…)

  1. Only tuck into your favourites. All those little extras lurking about over the Christmas period can do a lot of damage. A few chocolates here, a slice of Stilton there, an extra smidgen of Baileys, and before you know it, game over. But try to cut back on snacking by sticking to this golden rule – only eat and drink your favourites. For example, if you’ve been looking forward to Christmas pudding, go ahead and enjoy it on December 25th. But don’t scoff that last unloved chocolate just for the sake of it. Think of it as a waste of calories that could go towards something else.
  2. Wear something fitted. Don’t go for the loose and flowing look on Christmas Day just to give your stomach room to expand. Wear something with a waistband which will help signal when you’ve had enough – there’s nothing like feeling uncomfortable in your clothes to realise dinner’s over.
  3. Eat slowly. Christmas is the one of those days when some of us eat more than normal. But do try to eat slowly, and every now and again put your fork down. Aim to stop eating when you’re satisfied – not when you’re stuffed.
  4. Brush your teeth after Christmas dinner. A quick freshen-up acts as a psychological signal that the meal is finished and it’s time to do something else. You wouldn’t want to ruin that minty-fresh taste with a mince pie now, would you?
  5. Be more active. Curling up with your family to watch a movie is a wonderful tradition. But once those credits roll, ramp up your activity levels to aid digestion, burn calories and boost your energy levels. Check your emails standing up, run upstairs to drop off kids’ belongings and get outdoors for family wintry walks and bike rides.
  6. Make food swaps. Save calories for the treats you love by making clever food swaps over Christmas. Try swapping your glass of fruit juice at breakfast for herbal tea, for example. I’m not much of a fan of roast potatoes, so I skip them in favour of extra veg. You can even replace brandy butter with half-fat crème fraîche.
  7. Don’t consider it a fortnight-long eating fest. If you were to continue tucking into those Christmas goodies every day, your bathroom scales wouldn’t thank you. Aim to tuck in freely on three to four days over the fortnight – probably Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – but otherwise eat carefully and simply to balance out the calorie overloads. Think soups, stews, salads, pulses, lean protein, fruit and veg.
  8. Keep Christmas treats out of sight. If that box of chocolates are staring you in the face, chances are you’ll grab a couple. But if you hide these goodies in the cupboard out of reach, you’re more likely to snack on something you fancy from the fruit bowl instead.
  9. Shave calories. Cutting a few calories here and there may sound hardly worth the bother. But it’s worth it because it adds up to one much bigger dent in your energy intake. Try halving your glass of breakfast juice, for example.
  10. Chuck out leftovers sooner. There’s no rule saying you have to hang on to those festive leftovers into January – particularly if their very presence makes you feel as though you are still in ‘Christmas mode’ and can’t move forward with plans to eat more healthily. I threw out my leftovers on December 28th last year. Ruthless? Yes, okay, but I felt much better for it.
  11. Be kind to yourself. And if you do go overboard and end up eating and drinking more than you hoped? Just move on. You’re only human and by focusing on what you’ve done wrong, you won’t remember all the wonderful things you’ve done right. Don’t forget to pick up that clean slate when you wake up tomorrow.

Christmas tree illustration

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kara says:

Great tips. I don’t tend to eat anything extra to be honest – I find that food gets wasted but I do intend to eat more healthily in the new year!

healthiermummy says:

Well done, sounds like you’ve got the Christmas eating completely under control.

Plenty of winter walks mean we can indulge in some comfort food favorites without feeling the pinch (in clothes waistlines) come January!

healthiermummy says:

You’re right, winter walks are great – a really good way to counteract some of the eating

Foz says:

Great tips….I don’t actually celebrate christmas but my ‘celebrating’ is over indulging in chocolate!! Must be careful!

Louisa says:

Thanks for the great tips. I shall definitely be careful with what I eat this year. 6000 calories in 1 day is terrifying!

Louisa says:

A really useful post. One Christmas about 7 years ago I pigged out and piled on the pounds afterwards. I try to be a little more careful now, so will use your tips.

Mammasaurus says:

Great tips – we only really indulge over Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day so hopefully we’ll be ok here! We like a smoked salmon and scrambled egg brekkie here on Christmas Day, luckily there’s lots of yummy things like that which are reasonably healthy but still treats!

Globalmouse says:

6000 calories on Christmas Day?? *gulp* These are some brilliant tips…I like the one of wearing fitted clothes…and brushing teeth after lunch as I’m really terrible at keeping on snacking! Thank you for sharing these!

healthiermummy says:

I know – I was astonished too about the 6000 calories! And that’s without devouring an entire box of chocs too

anna says:

these tips are actually really useful. i need to follow them!! i have been thinking just eat what i want and then deal with it in january! lol

healthiermummy says:

You could do that too! But cd make January more depressing…

Great tips – now all I need is someone to MAKE me enforce them :) Merry Christmas.

healthiermummy says:

You’re right. It’s amazing how the best of intentions can go awry after a glass or two.

Meg says:

Some really good tips. I would like to think I can follow quite a few of them. I definitely plan to throw out my leftovers by the 28th, although the lure of the mint matchmaker will prove too tempting for me… However I also plan to buy an enormous mountain of satsumas so that I’ll hopefully reach for a few of those when I have a sweet craving…. Still festive, but healthier than a matchmaker! It’s a good theory, hope I can carry it out!

healthiermummy says:

The satsumas sound like a brilliant plan and definitely very festive. Could you forgo the mint Matchmakers completely? Just don’t put them on the shopping list at all?