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Fitness & Health

05th Dec 2018

How to minimise weight gain over the Christmas period

Life is all about balance - even more so at Christmas. Here are some tips for minimising the impact of the festive food indulgence

Alex Roberts

Life is all about balance – even more so at Christmas

Enjoying the festive period is essential – plus spending time with your family and doing what you enjoy will give you a boost from a wellbeing and psychological perspective.

If you know you’re going to be scoffing down a lot of food (plus a few beers), you’re probably aware of the high number of calories these consume.

To banish any sort of festive belly, there are some necessary steps you can take. For minimising the impact on your body, keep your meals to a minimum in the hours before and after your festive indulgence.

In particular, intermittent fasting could prove effective. Mexican scientists put it to the test, and you can implement their findings into your plan.

The researchers recommend:

  • A 12-14 hour fast within each 24-hour period: It may seem a lot, but considering you’re normally fasting for 8 hours overnight, it’s just a few extra hours in addition to that.
  • Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise: This can be done walking, hiking or climbing, which won’t take a lot of time out of your day. It also means you won’t need to get to the gym on rest days or when it’s closed for Christmas.
  • Consume calorie-free drinks: Staying hydrated can also keep you feeling full as many mistake hunger for thirst. Instead of opting for a high-sugar, high-calorie Christmas coffee, drink calorie-free drinks such a black coffee, green tea and fruit-infused water.

Stay Active

You can drastically reduce weight gain just by staying active around Christmas. In addition to the aerobic exercise advised (such as walking or hiking), it’s always best to look for opportunities to increase your activity.

This may involve walking or cycling to work instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the lift and getting up from your desk for five minutes each hour.

Here are some further tips from personal training specialists Ultimate Performance:

Try and only eat when you’re hungry

Food scarcity isn’t the problem it once was for our ancestors, and a lot of us have forgotten how to recognise and interpret the hunger signals that our bodies send us.

Yes, it’s much easier said than done. But before you open your fridge door or dive into yet another box of Celebrations chocolates, ask yourself why you’re reaching for food.

Is your stomach grumbling? Are you bored? Are you only eating because other people are eating around you? Stop for a moment and make yourself conscious of your motivation.

Avoid holiday stress

Hosting parties, cooking Christmas dinner, buying the perfect presents and avoiding family disagreements come hand-in-hand with the holidays. All this stress can lead to emotional eating.

Rather than relieve stress by reaching for a sugary snack, take some time for yourself. Sleep is a great way to rest and recuperate.

If you do feel the need to snack, keep a supply of nutritious foods on hand. Fruit, vegetables, nuts or seeds are all good options.

Focus on your food

When you’re distracted, it is easy to continue eating long after you’re actually full.

If you’re eating in front of the TV or scrolling through social media, you’ll go into autopilot and consume unnecessary calories.

As tempting as it can be to sit and binge watch Christmas movies all day, turn off the TV whenever you prepare a meal to focus on what you’re eating and how much.

Eat more vegetables

Eating more veg is another under-appreciated but effective way to reduce hunger.

Aside from providing your body with vital vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, vegetables are the perfect food to reduce hunger. In short, vegetables:

  • Have a low energy density but large physical volume, which makes them ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Have a high water content, which can help fill you up and reduce hunger.
  • Contain plenty of fibre, which has been shown to increase satiety (feelings of fullness) after a meal.

Fill your plate up with vegetables, reducing higher calorie starches or fats. This will also reduce the overall calorie intake of meal.

Although food is understandably a fundamental aspect of Christmas, focus on relaxing and enjoying time with your family.

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