The festive season can be a challenging time when you’re trying to lose weight. Between the food-centred celebrations, flowing champagne and your exercise routine going out the window, it’s enough to derail anyone’s diet. In fact, research suggests that on average, Australian adults aged under 65 years gain around 0.5 kg and 0.6 cm of waist girth per year. It’s believed that the festive season is the period in which most of this weight gain occurs. Each year this extra weight can slowly contribute to the gradual weight gain that happens over the years. So what can you do to prevent this inevitable weight creep from happening each year?
Firstly, start by shifting your mindset. Hopefully you’ve worked hard in the months leading up to the holidays, so you can cut yourself some slack during the silly season. Allow yourself time to relax and celebrate with family and friends – no need to completely give up on your goals, but it’s reasonable to anticipate eating a bit more than you normally would. That way when you head into the new year having maintained your weight, you can view that as a win!
Aiming to maintain your weight gives you the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilt around your diet, or feeling disappointed when you don’t lose as much as you’d hoped to. It also means that when you’re back in your regular weight-loss routine, you haven’t lost any progress.
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Here are our top tips to help you maintain your weight these holidays:
- Keep up your exercise. Your normal routine can easily get messed up during the festive season, but keep up regular exercise as much as you can. Remember that incidental exercise counts too! Think activities like gardening and housework, as well as walking around the shops when you’re Christmas shopping. Taking time out for a walk is also a great way to bust some holiday stress and to get a (potentially rare) moment to yourself.
- Weigh in regularly. A 2018 study in the UK found that participants who weighed themselves regularly over the holiday period gained less weight than participants who didn’t. By keeping an eye on the scales, you’ll notice any changes as they happen, and you’ll be better equipped to prevent small gains turning into big ones.
- Limit alcohol and other drinks. Alcohol is usually free flowing at this time of year, which can come to the detriment of your health and weight. You’re also more likely to ditch your diet when you’re tipsy. Alcoholic drinks are usually energy-dense (meaning they’re high in kilojoules) but offer no health benefits. That’s why they’re classed as an indulgence on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. Limiting the number of alcoholic drinks (as well as other energy-dense drinks like soft drinks and fruit juice) is an easy way to cut out extra kilojoules. Instead, opt for a sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime.
- Practice self-care. Remember that you’re allowed to say no to things you don’t want to do. If you’re stressed, tired or just want a night in with a healthy dinner, don’t feel obliged to accept every dinner or party invitation.
- Enjoy yourself! Weight loss is not an all-or-nothing journey. Eating healthily is a lifelong behaviour, not a temporary diet, and life is meant to be lived! Enjoy the season, eat delicious food, spend time with loved ones, and hop back on the bus when the celebrations are over.
Want specific holiday health tips for your diet personality? Check out Christmas health tips for your Diet Type.