Avoid overindulging this Christmas

Tables groaning with meatloaf, glossy hams swimming in gravy, steaming pudding doused in brandy, gallons of liqueurs – no wonder most people gain weight (fast!) over the festive season stardict Dictionary.

Here are some ways to avoid turning into a Santa Clause replica – complete with beer-belly and wobbly cheeks.

1. Have a wholesome breakfast

Kick off each morning with a high-fibre, protein-rich breakfast to keep you satisfied throughout the day. Wholewheat toast with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is a healthy, filling choice and will give you the energy you need to tackle the lines at the mall and get that shopping done.

Your brain can sometimes misinterpret the feeling of thirst for hunger, making you munch unnecessarily. The next time you feel peckish, drink a glass of water first. It’s also a good idea to top up before meals. The extra liquid can help you feel full, so you’re less likely to overeat.

2. Don’t starve yourself

Skipping meals so you can eat more at a party later on may sound like a good idea, but this strategy doesn’t work. You’ll arrive hungry and weak, and ready to eat everything on offer – most likely in the form of sugary and high-fat snacks. Before you head out, have a light snack like yoghurt or a piece of fruit to take the edge off your hunger and stop you from gorging.

3. Be selective

Draw up a list of your favourite foods and give yourself permission to indulge in just one of these at a time. Don’t blow your calorie quota by snacking on everything in sight simply because it’s there. Rather save yourself for a slice of decadent chocolate cake or Christmas cookies. Be practical too; rather than going all out every day with alcohol AND decadent treats, limit yourself to one treat for the day – either a glass of your favourite drink or something nice to eat.

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4. Plate up small

Research shows that using a smaller plate can trick your mind into thinking you’re eating a larger portion. This can help you stick to healthy portion sizes, and prevent bingeing – and a heap of guilt later on.

5. Take your time

Eat slowly and mindfully. Truly savour every bite. You’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth and stop when you’ve had enough.

6. Work for your treats

Want that ice cream? Exercise for it. Go for a brisk walk, run around the block, or swim a few laps in the pool before tucking into your next treat. This will keep you from overdoing the Christmas goodies, and help you maintain a healthy weight over the holidays.

7. Shift the focus

Take the time to enjoy other aspects of the season other than food. Catch up with friends, play a game with the family or go dancing instead of hovering around the food table.

8. Watch your alcohol intake

Alcohol is loaded with empty calories. Plus, it can increase your appetite and weaken your willpower. The more you drink, the more likely you are to go overboard on the festive nibbles. To reduce your alcohol calorie intake, dilute your drinks with ice, or go for light beverages like spritzers. Alternate your drinks with water as often as possible. This will keep you full and help you stay hydrated – and hopefully stave off a hangover the next day.

9. Shop smart

Avoid buying treats in bulk, or stocking up for “just in case”. You’ll find it much harder to resist temptation, and end up eating it all so it doesn’t go to waste. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy foods only, and a treat here and there.