We all love Santa, the jolly man with the big belly, but we don’t want to end up looking like him this Christmas. This holiday season is full of yummy food and plenty of parties, but it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re eating, and how much of it is actually doing you more harm than good.
According to recent studies, the average Australian gains 0.8 – 1.5kg, mostly in the stomach area, over the Christmas season. That doesn’t sound like too much, but it turns out, this weight is very rarely lost over the course of the year. This weight gain in the trunk area can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Although, sometimes, it’s alright to indulge, too much of a good thing can lead to problems down the track!
Studies have found that keeping an eye on the scales during the Christmas season is a good way to make sure you don’t gain too much, too quickly. If you’re aware of how your body is changing over the short amount of time, you’re more likely to make changes, faster, than weighing yourself at the end of the season and seeing a number higher than you’d like!
Here’s some easy tips to keep healthy this holiday season:
Keep alcohol to a minimum
1-2 standard drinks (or less) is an ideal limit this season – any more, and your risk of alcohol-related disease or injury begins to increase. If you do choose to drink this holiday period, keep an eye on serving sizes, try to finish your drink completely before accepting a top-up, and alternate alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks (like water) to minimise consumption. Similarly, avoid high-calorie drinks, like pre-mixed spirits, beer, or cocktails, if you’re looking to beat the bulge this summer.
Avoid going hungry to parties
It’s the same concept as not going hungry to the supermarket – the hungrier you are, the more likely you are to over-spend (or in this case, over-eat). Having a small meal full of greens, legumes, fruits, and grains, before you head to the party may help avoid snacking on high-calorie party foods, like chips and cake. If you can’t fit in a meal beforehand, a light snack, like reduced-fat yoghurt or some high-fibre cereal, will help beat those cravings!
Here’s a guide of party foods to enjoy or avoid, courtesy of Nutrition Australia.
Foods to Enjoy
Vegetable sticks, pretzels, rice crackers
Hummus, beetroot, tzatziki, avocado dip
Sushi, Sandwiches, quiches
Fruit salad with yoghurt
Foods to Limit
Pies, sausage rolls, spinach triangles
Chips, lollies & chocolates
Cakes & slices with cream
Exercising can be difficult to fit in during the busy holiday period, but it’s very important to keep moving and healthy to avoid packing on the pounds. Smartphone apps that provide exercises that are less than 10 minutes are helpful if you’re in a time crunch, or going to the park with the kids is another great idea to get the whole family involved. If you’re on holiday, exploring on foot is a great way to discover new areas, and you might even find more than if you drove by car! If you ended up gaining a bit of weight over the holiday anyway, never fear! Asking for a gym membership for Christmas is a great way to save money, and make sure you get a head start on those resolutions – many gyms provide a seasonal discount for this very reason, so make sure to ask around.
By incorporating these easy tips, and keeping an eye on your body throughout the season, you too can beat the bulge this Christmas, and still have a cracker of a time!