Seven ways to avoid festive weight gain

Most people gain some weight over the festive period – and no wonder, as many eat the equivalent of 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. So what could you do differently this year?

According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), people gain an average of 1-5lb over Christmas and New Year, thanks to the masses of food and drink surrounding them throughout the holidays. This may explain why so many of us vow to lose weight in January. But you don’t have to give up all your festive favourites to buck the trend this year. Here are some tips that could help you enjoy your food without piling on the pounds:

1. Always eat breakfast, but make it a healthy one. BDA experts recommend cereal, porridge, English muffins, scones, malt loaf, fruit bread and bagels, all of which are good sources of energy and low in fat (go for wholegrain varieties where possible). If you’ve got time to cook, try mushrooms or grilled tomatoes on toast, or even an omelette with baked beans.

2. For Christmas dinner, make sure at least a third of your plate is covered with vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, peas, broccoli, parsnips and carrots (don’t over boil them – better still, steam or microwave them to keep all the nutrients in).

3. Consider having baked rather than roasted potatoes, as baking them means they’re almost fat free. If you simply can’t have Christmas dinner without roasted potatoes, try cutting them into large chunks that absorb less fat than smaller ones, and use a spray vegetable oil (or use a brush to coat them) instead of lard or goose fat.

4. Turkey is a great source of protein, and if you remove the skin it’s also low in fat. Avoid butter-basted birds, and cook yours on a trivet or upturned ovenproof plate to stop it from sitting in fat (prick the skin before cooking so the fat can drain out). If you’re really looking forward to pigs in blankets, grill or roast them instead of frying.

5. Have a change from the usual sausage meat stuffing this year and choose one containing chestnuts or fruit (this alone can save you up to 90 calories per serving). And if you’re making gravy with meat juices, let the fat rise to the surface and skim it off before serving.

6. Christmas pudding is high in sugar, so treat yourself to just a small portion with low-fat custard, crème fraiche or fat-free Greek yoghurt instead of brandy butter or cream. For those who don’t like Christmas pud, make a fresh fruit salad.

7. Snack on festive fruit such as satsumas, dates, figs and pomegranates rather than stuffing yourself with chocolates. If you have a weakness for nuts, bear in mind that they’re high in fat – try to limit yourself to half a handful, or treat yourself to some chestnuts (these are lower in fat than other nuts).

Meanwhile, don’t forget that alcohol contains calories too. Try to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones (choose fizzy water or sugar-free drinks, since non-diet soft drinks can be higher calories than some alcohol-based drinks) and your waistline will thank you for it – not to mention your head the next morning.

Worried you’ll drink too much this Christmas? Read our hangover prevention tips in Eat, drink and avoid hangovers this Christmas. Your local Careway pharmacist can also give you lots of tips on eating healthily and managing your weight – find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.