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Do you feel that December will ruin your hard work this year?  Are there just too many parties, dinners and family gatherings that weight gain seems inevitable?  It is possible to survive the Christmas season without gaining weight.  Don’t fall for the myths of unavoidable holiday weight gain.  You can enjoy you holiday favourites and still start the year looking slim and trim.

Let’s debunk some of the common holiday myths.

Myth 1: Most people gain 2-3kg’s over the holiday season

You’ve probably heard this, you may even have experienced it, but in truth, holiday weight gain is actually quite small.  According to one study, the average adult gains about half a kilogram during the holidays.  The problem lies in the fact that most people do not lose this weight during the following year, which means there is a subtle gain over the years, and in later life we suddenly notice the middle age spread!  It is of course still important to be mindful and careful of your eating during the holidays to minimize the damage.

Bottom line, what you do from January to November really determines your weight.

Myth 2: Eating less during the day will help me control my weight

Skipping meals during the day in an effort to keep calories for later is generally an approach that will backfire.  Although it may sound logical, you will arrive at the function ravenous and ready to eat a lot of everything you see!  Instead of starving yourself to prepare for a function, just eat as you normally would.  By not being overly hungry when you arrive at the function, you will be less likely to eat past the point of fullness and overdo it.  Keeping calories for later promotes obsessing about food and takes away from the enjoyment of the food.

Bottom line, if you want to prevent overeating, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch as well as a snack before you go out.

Myth 3: I have to give up my favourite holiday foods not to gain weight

Absolutely not.  All foods can be worked into a healthy eating plan.  And avoiding all your favourite foods will only leave you feeling deprived, which could ultimately lead you to go overboard and binge.  The key is to taste the treats and fill up on the healthier foods.

Bottom line, you can have small portions of your favourite holiday foods.  Savour them so that you don’t need a large portion.

Myth 4: A few little nibbles won’t do any harm

A few little snacks eaten here and there can easily add up to a whole lot of calories, so be careful of what you put in your mouth in between meals.  If you would like some snacks, put them on a small plate, sit down (this is very important!) and enjoy them slowly.  In this way you will be aware of what and how much you are eating.  It is the mindless snacks that creep in that cause the biggest problem with our weight.

Bottom line, be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth.

Myth 5: It’s all about willpower

Yes, willpower can play a part when it comes to managing snacks, treats and portions.  But it takes more than just willpower to control your food intake.  Some easy ways to rely less on willpower:

ü Eating regularly during the day (to balance your blood sugar levels) so that you are not starving will help you not have to rely on willpower. 

ü   Managing your environment by removing yourself from the table of snacks.

ü  Bringing a healthy plate of food (crudité with a cottage cheese dip for the starter snacks or a salad for the meal) so that there is something you can fill up on if you really need to eat.

ü  Drinking water in between each alcoholic drink.

Bottom line, don’t rely on willpower to stay on track, it runs out at some point!

Myth 6: Cleansing or drastically cutting calories after the holiday season is the best way to counteract all of that holiday eating you did.

This is completely unnecessary and counterintuitive.  Firstly, your body detoxes and cleanses itself every single day – eating more fruit and vegetables will help with the process as these foods contain all the nutrients that the liver requires to work at its best.  Secondly, suddenly decreasing your calories confuses the body and it is more likely to go into a holding on state if the calories are cut for a longer period of time.  And thirdly, it puts you into a ‘diet mentality’, which ruins your relationship with food and spoils the enjoyment of food.  Rather get back to basics after the holiday season and continue to listen to your body – your body does not lie about what it needs.

Bottom line, get back into your regular pattern of eating and eat less or no treats for a while.

Keeping your weight stable during the holidays doesn’t have to be hard!  You can enjoy the special and delicious foods and festive meals that make the holiday season special to you.  if you eat normally on most days, and at functions control your portions and eat mindfully, stop eating when you are satisfied, and get back to basics once the holidays are over, you will find that your clothes will not feel snug in the new year!

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