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How to avoid putting on weight over Christmas

Article by Anne Elliott
Christmas Ahoy! Here it comes again! Endless TV adverts, Christmas shopping, queues, arguments, bad tempers, over inflated prices, exhaustion, stress, parties, never-ending cooking, empty bank accounts, being nice to people you don’t like much. You’re right I’m not brimming over with festive spirit, especially as it started in early October. ‘Give me a drink. Now”, tends to be my opening gambit at the round of enforced get-togethers. I must look like a woman not to be messed with as I have a quick snifter in my hand before my coat is off. But once the presents are bought, the kitchen is full of gooey, rich and exuberant food, I stop for a while, breathe a sigh of relief for a few days rest but with the resignation and wonder at how big I will be by the time we get out the other side of this enforced epicurean bacanale.

What can you do to not pile on the pounds over Christmas

Is my sense of gloom warranted? Is it inevitable that I will pile on pounds? Is my dose of overindulgent guilt just waiting round the corner for me? What can I do to help myself and others, who ask me how to get through this period unfettered. If they made Christmas eating an Olympic event, which of us would be on the winning roster?

I have read a lot of articles on this topic and quite frankly, although they are all full of very sensible advice, non of them are realistic. After all, we are under a whole lot of pressure to eat and be merry and to turn food down or to be seen to be careful looks like we’re not in the festive spirit. It is imposed over-indulgence. Also, because of this pressure, it’s very easy to give in to our food obsessions because they are temporarily socially acceptable.

Its so easy to put on a stone over Christmas!

I can tell you that you really should go for a 3 miles walk after lunch and to limit yourself to 3 drinks in a 24 hour period and only eat 1 tin of chocolates but I know and you know you’re not going to do it so what I have decided to do is to give you some real, solid, down to earth facts and let you decide how to proceed.

0) The average woman needs 2000 kcals and man needs 2500 kcals to maintain weight.
1) The average woman will eat approx 6500 cals (7000+ for men) PER DAY day of this holiday.
2) This big increase in calorie intake does not limit itself to the 2 holiday days but begins up to 2 weeks before with parties and events increasing to the big day, intake reduces slightly the week after then goes up again for new year.
3) 3500 kcals = 1 pound of fat
4) Our average woman/man is consuming 4500 kcals + of excess food PER DAY.
5) Little to no exercise over this period means all excess calories are turned into fat.
6) Here’s the maths: (an average of 14 indulgent days over entire 6 week period) 14 days x 4500 kcals = 63,000 surplus calories. This is 18 pounds of fat.
7) That’s why it’s so easy to put on a stone over Christmas. Scary isn’t it.

Please bear this in mind. If you want to at least stay the same weight or only put on a pound or two, you have to be mindful of what you are eating and how much you are moving. If you’ve done well so far this year with your weight management, don’t let it go. It’s so easy to say, ‘I’ll eat what I want and worry about it in January’ or ‘I’ll suspend my diet and start afresh on Jan 1’ Don’t. You are making it harder for yourself.

Have a taste, not a plateful!

I don’t want you to miss out. I want you to have a taste of all the lovely rich foods you have and will be offered. I’m just saying, stop at a taste. Don’t eat the whole plateful. It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain you’re full, so eat a little, have a 20 minute break and ask yourself if you really need another stilton. You also need to move around. I still think a post lunch walk with the dog or your loved ones is the best and most expedient way of using up some of the excess.

My Christmas wish would be that we could all eat and drink as much as we want and still lose 2 pounds a week. Unfortunately, it won’t happen in this universe so the best I can wish for you is to continue taking responsibility for your diet and fitness and that you have a wonderful, happy and restful Yuletide.

Happy Christmas everyone.




ANNE ELLIOTT is 52. She has a Personal Training Practice that specialises in working with middle-aged clients and their associated health problems. She lectures in Sports Science at Middlesex University, is an ABAE boxing referee, is registered with REPS at Level 4 and is undertaking a Doctorate in exercise in middle age. Anne appears regularly in the media talking about her specialisation - exercise in middle age.

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