Christmas comes at the time of year when we are moving into lovely warm weather which tends to mean most of us will get into shorts, tee shirts or swimwear at some stage.

If you are worried about how your waistline will cope with all the social occasions during the festive season you are probably not alone. While little research has been done on weight gain over the holidays many people do tell me that they will gain weight while on vacation or over the Christmas period. This is despite the fact that in New Zealand we enjoy more summer fruits, salads and lighter meals at this time of the year.

So other than turning into a hermit and declining all social engagements (which is not recommended at all) what can you do?

If you have an after work function make sure that you do eat lunch that day. Not eating lunch will only make you very hungry and you will be more likely to eat or drink more once you get to the function.

If snacks are based around items such as chips, nuts, cheese or sausage rolls the salt level in these foods can easily make you thirsty. Making sure you have some water is one way of trying to manage how much wine or beer you may be tempted to drink to compensate for the salty flavour.

The above snacks are also very high in calories. If you find you can’t stop reaching for them, either move the bowl or plate so it is not directly in your sight or move away and use the opportunity to mix and mingle with other people.

It takes little time to munch through a significant portion of nuts. One cup of mixed nuts has almost 80 grams of fat and 3780kJ (or 904 calories). This could be close to half your daily required energy intake.

We all know alcohol is full of calories and contributes significantly to weight gain. Tips to reduce your calorie intake from alcohol include alternating an alcoholic drink with a low calorie non alcoholic drink such as sparkling water, soda water, diet drinks, tomato juice or even diluted fruit juice. Asking for water to be served with meals makes it easier to alternate your drinks. Offering to be the sober driver is one way of pleasing your friends while looking after your waistline!

Barbecues are very popular at this time of the year. Again the pre-dinner nibbles of cheese, chips or nuts could be a danger area. It is also not uncommon to find fattier types of meat at barbecues. If it is appropriate bring an alternative to the sausages or patties which can be high in fat. Otherwise check your serving sizes and try to place more salads on your plate than meat. Trim any excess fat off the meat and take the skin off chicken.

One grilled beef sausage has 13 grams of fat and 756 kJ (or 180 calories) compared to a grilled chicken drum stick without skin which has 3 grams of fat and 306 kJ (73.5 calories).

Looking for an ice-cream on a hot summer’s day? Instead of choosing an ice-cream consider buying a juice-based ice block. A small ice cream cone could have 23 grams of fat and 1648 kJ (393 calories) compared to an ice block which has 0.1 grams of fat and 238 kJ (56.8 calories).

Perhaps you are meeting your friends for a coffee. When ordering coffee ask for it to be made with trim milk. A latte or cappuccino made with standard milk has 7.5 grams of fat and 526 kJ (125 calories) while changing to trim milk will have only 0.8 grams fat and 328 kJ (80calories)

Before you order a snack to go with it stop and think about how hungry you are. If you are not hungry don’t get something to eat just because everyone else is. If you are peckish consider sharing something with a friend therefore splitting the energy intake, and check out which item may be the best choice. A medium sized sweet fruit muffin has around 13 grams of fat and 1475 kJ (356 calories) compared to a medium sized bran muffin which has around 8 grams of fat and 1124 kJ (272 calories). Remember adding butter or margarine to these will push up the fat and therefore energy content for both muffins.

Small changes really do help to control your weight without leaving you feeling completely deprived. So while you are on holiday enjoy yourself but stay alert and look for small ways to keep your weight on track.



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Fiona Boyle is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She runs a private practice and gives nutrition advice to individuals and families to help meet their health needs and personal goals.

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