Simple hacks to avoid Christmas weight gain

Dr Nick Fuller
Leading Obesity Expert at the University of Sydney and founder of Interval Weight Loss.

For most of us, our weight is going up every year. This can be up to 1 kg per year for those over the age of 25 and even more as we get older and the body slows down. Before we know it we see ourselves looking in the mirror and wondering where the extra 10 kg has come from, as we try to come to terms that we are now overweight. The increase in weight usually coincides with a significant life event, such as starting a job, grief, getting married, having children, or changing job. But it also coincides with festive times such as Christmas when we tend to over-indulge on both food and drink.

This Christmas when you tell yourself that you are going to start your health kick in the New Year, think again, because it’s all too easy to put the weight on but not as easy to take it off. Those kilos certainly don’t just disappear like the Christmas decorations. And kick starting the New Year with the latest fad diet will only end up in you being fatter than before you started – science has proven this. The good news is, it is possible to celebrate the holiday season without stacking on the kilos and whilst still having fun!  

Try these 7 tips this Christmas season to ensure you don’t end up with that ever so common weight gain this festive season:

1. Eat before attending the party

Going to Christmas parties after eating will ensure you don’t over-indulge on those treat foods that are packed with calories and little nutrition. Waking up and telling yourself that it is a good idea to save the calories by neglecting food intake throughout the day will only end up in disaster when you arrive. You will find yourself reaching for anything you can get your hands on, only to have feelings of guilt after you over-indulge. 

2. Exercise first thing in the day

Not because exercise in the morning is better for burning fat, but because it prevents you from neglecting it later in the day. After the food and champagne come out, it’s all over! Eating all that food at Christmas only makes us feel tired and sluggish which means exercise is than the last thing we feel like doing in the afternoon.

3. Use a small plate 

It is much better to use a smaller plate and go back for seconds than to overload your plate and over eat. This forces you to slow down and to chew your food slowly. Wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds - the minimum time to allow signals to travel from your stomach to your brain to tell you whether you are full. 

4. Serve the food in the kitchen

Allow everyone to serve up their food in the kitchen and to sit at the dining table away from all food. You are less likely to put it on your plate if it is out of arm’s reach. Focus on the social aspect of the event - food should be enjoyed but don’t pig out.

5. Take a dish

Not only is this a kind gesture but it also prevents you from having to figure out what is in every dish at a friend’s or family party. It allows you a healthier alternative to fall back if you can’t find anything that you like.

6. Don’t over restrict but count up your ‘treats’

It doesn’t matter what it is – it might be the Christmas pudding, the gingerbread, the pecan pie, or the mince pies that you love. Everyone has their favourite treats and it is important to enjoy these foods but also to remember not to eat them every day. Have a very small piece to start with and if you love it, go back for more. Keeping a food diary can help you keep track of your food because it is all too often that we conveniently forget when we had our last treat.

7. Put the baked potato on the plate

Carbs can help curb the hunger if you choose the right types. Wholegrain carbohydrates are packed with nutrition, are high in fibre, and low in energy helping to keep you full. White carbohydrates are refined and have very little to offer, so do nothing but leave you feeling hungry and reaching for more. Stick to legumes, potatoes, sweet potato, corn and wholegrain bread, and keep white breads, biscuits, and all of those other foods coming out of a packet in the “treat” category and off the plate.

About Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller is the founder of Interval Weight Loss and is a leading obesity expert at the University of Sydney with a Ph.D. in Obesity Treatment. Dr Fuller is also the author of three best-selling books and his work been published in top ranked journals in the medical field, including JAMA, Lancet and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.