19 December 2011

Beat the bulge during the festive season

A recent survey showed that on average people will gain about 2kg during the 4-week Christmas period. Here's how you can avoid becoming another statistic.


The silly season can be a nerve-wracking time for people who are trying to lose weight; and can induce a "let’s over-indulge" attitude which leads to weight gain deemed next month’s challenge.

A recent survey completed by The British Dietetic Association showed that on average; people will gain about 2kg during the 4-week Christmas period.

Studies have also shown that weight gain is caused by an all or nothing approach to eating during the festive period; in which meals are skipped all together in order to binge later. Luckily, Weigh-Less can help you ditch next year’s "I must lose weight" resolution with our holiday game plan.

Leading up to the holidays, parties, office snacks and seasonal delicacies begin to make their appearance rendering you vulnerable to weight gain long before the holidays begin. This is the time to practice portion control and be extra mindful of what and how much food you are eating. You can still control your consumption without being a party pooper, if you enjoy the moment with healthy choices.

Brian Wansink, PhD, a food psychologist at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, calls "lack of planning" as one of the main cause of weight gain during the Christmas period.

He says: "All slimmers know that planning ahead of time is half the battle won. For example, you’re planning to host a dinner part with a slimmer-friendly menu, when circumstances beyond your control move the dinner to another venue. This needn’t make a dramatic impact. Prepare a slimmer-friendly dish and take it along for everyone, including yourself to enjoy."

If you enjoy cooking and baking, most recipes have slimmer-friendly versions. Be sure to source these before the holidays set in (the Weigh-Less cookbooks, magazines and website are useful tools for low fat recipes). Making a commitment to maintain your weight is the best bet, and indeed essential, to beat the battle of the bulge.

Weigh-Less lists the following hints and tips to help people stay on track with during the silly season:

  • Put your food on a smaller plate. Dr Wansink’s studies have found that the bigger the plate, the more food people serve, and will typically eat about 25 to 28 percent more food than if a side plate was used.
  • Stock up on healthy snack foods, such as apples, yoghurts, cereal, Provitas, fresh veg to stave off hunger pangs, unconscious munching or eating out of boredom.
  • Maintain some form of exercise, even if you do 10-minute intervals throughout the day. For example, mopping the kitchen, speed walking through the grocery store and sit-ups, or lunges in front of the TV all add up at the end of the day.
  • Start the day with a bowl of cooked oats, they’re nutritious and keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing your chances of getting hungry and snacking later in the morning.
  • Limit your alcohol intake, as these are full of useless kilojoules and if you must drink, studies show that drinking out of tall and narrow glass works out to drinking less. Dr Wansink performed studies with juice which showed that both children and adults poured and consume more juice when given a short, wide glass compared to those given a tall, narrow glass – although they believed the opposite to be true. Those with the short wide glasses poured 76% more juice than those with the tall slender glasses.
  • Avoid ‘mindless’ eating, this is what Dr Wansink calls "eating whilst distracted in front of the television" since viewers don’t pay attention to what’s in front of them. Studies show over 40 percent more food is eaten while watching TV because this leads to eating to the pace of the program, or eating until the program is over. Weigh-Less recommends sit down meals with family, and this allows you to focus on what you eating and portion control.
  • Don’t punish yourself if will power fails, contact Weigh-Less on 086 11 00 551 tollfree to find your nearest Weigh-Less group while you’re on holiday.

Founder and Chairman of Weigh-Less Mary Holroyd believes shifting your focus from food and on to spending time with loved ones prevents bingeing during the festive season:

“There may be plenty of temptations around at this time of the year, but the key to success is everything in moderation. It’s ok to treat yourself and have a good time; however your family and the time you spend together should be your top priority over the festive season. By focusing on your family and catching up with those who have travelled far to be with you for Christmas; you will be distracted from eating pudding or other treats. Also learn to say no to what I call ‘food pushers’; which are people who make you eat more than usual and second helpings.”

Weigh-Less press release

- (Health24, December 2011)

(Image: iStock)

Read more:

Thwart holiday weight gain
Stay slim over Christmas
The ultimate weight loss guide


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.