Ways to avoid workplace weight gain this Christmas
The festive season may be great fun, but it’s not particularly good for our waistlines. According to the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), most people can expect to gain at least 1 – 2lb during Christmas and New Year. But what you eat and drink at home isn’t the only problem.
If you go out to work, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the temptation that can surround you at the office throughout December. For instance, there are the team lunches, the endless supply of chocolate and, to top it all, the office Christmas party.
So how can you enjoy the Christmas festivities at work while steering clear of some of the nutritional pitfalls of the season? Here, the BNF’s team of nutrition scientists offer their advice on having a merry Christmas at work – without the January guilt trip that often follows:
Snack smart – According to the BNF’s Healthy Eating Week 2018 workplace survey, almost a third of adults say having too many unhealthy snacks at work makes it difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. So when the Christmas treats start piling up in the office, having healthier alternatives to hand is a good way of avoiding some of the temptation. Try having just one indulgent snack a day, and in the meantime fill up on healthy options such as tangerines, unsalted nuts, plain popcorn, wholegrain crisp breads or low-fat cream cheese and dips with vegetables sticks.
Share courses – Christmas dinner is traditionally a big, indulgent meal. But even before the big day itself you might eat one or more Christmas dinners at work. So try sharing a starter or dessert with a colleague – that way, you can still have three courses but without eating so many calories.
And remember, there are many foods in a traditional Christmas dinner that are rich in essential nutrients. Brussel sprouts, for instance, are full of folate, fibre and vitamin C – so pile them on your plate. Turkey is also brimming with B vitamins, and if you remove the skin it’s also a lower-fat, high-protein treat.
Plan ahead – The work Christmas party can be a calories minefield with all those canapés and alcohol on offer. So if you’re going to a party straight after work, try to have a small healthy snack – a bowl of low-sugar wholegrain cereal, some oatcakes with peanut butter or a yoghurt – before you go. Having something to eat beforehand means you won’t arrive at the party hungry and start diving straight into the nibbles.
Meanwhile, according to the BNF, studies show the greater the choice of food on offer, the more calories we tend to eat. So instead of trying to have a bit of everything, stick to a few smart choices – go for things like vegetable sticks, olives and breadsticks, and steer clear of too many choices with pastry or breadcrumbs. Also, if you choose healthier foods first, you may find it easier to say ‘no’ to higher-calorie options later.
When it comes to drinks, choose sugar-free mixers, go for smaller glasses of wine and beer where possible, and try to include non-alcoholic drinks too.
Stay active – Keeping active throughout the festive season can help you burn off some of the extra calories, help keep your fitness up and may also help improve sleep and reduce stress, says the BNF. Even small amounts of activity, such as a 10-minute brisk walk, can be beneficial for health – why not go for a walk during your lunch time or on your journey to or from work. Two 10-minute walks a day can burn about 160 calories – that’s more than 800 calories a week if you do it five days a week.
The BNF has lots more tips on eating healthily during the festive season. If you do overindulge, however, your local Careway pharmacist has everything you need to relieve indigestion and hangover symptoms.
Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.