Winter is a time for comfort food, and also of celebration with Christmas and New Year.

Studies show that people tend to gain weight over the holiday season. Perhaps this is not surprising with the extra calories consumed at our pre-Christmas parties, Christmas Day itself and the build up to the New Year.

On average we will put on 0.5-1kg, and this weight seems particularly hard to lose. But if we don’t manage to lose it, and the same thing happens each year, after a few years our festive indulgences can lead to considerable gain in weight!

New Year – New You

In the cold light of day, after all the Christmas and New Year fun is over, you may be thinking about losing some of the weight gained during the festive period and getting back to a healthy routine. Take it slowly and avoid crash dieting or fad diets.

New Year’s resolutions often fail. Thinking about some realistic, long term lifestyle changes can be much more sustainable. You might want to think about some of the suggestions below and pick some that you could fit into your lifestyle.

Sort out your snacks – there’s no reason why snacks can’t be incorporated into a healthy diet,

Don’t be dense – if you want to lose some weight, keeping the energy density of your diet low can be helpful. Eating low energy density foods, like fruit, vegetable, soups and fibre rich foods means you can eat more and still lose weight. Foods high in fat are likely to be more energy dense. Try and bulk out your meals with vegetables and increase the fibre content by adding wholegrains, beans or pulses, and use lower fat options and cooking techniques. but it’s important to avoid eating too many snacks that are low in essential nutrients and high in salt, fat or sugar. Try fruit, vegetable sticks, low-fat yogurts, wholegrain crispbreads or rice cakes to keep you going between meals.

Just add water – good hydration is essential to keep your body and mind working their best. You should be drinking at least 8-10 glasses (200ml) of non-alcoholic fluids per day to stay hydrated. Water is a great choice, but other fluids like tea, coffee, unsweetened fruit juices and soft drinks also count. Sugar sweetened beverages should only be consumed in moderation. It’s best to avoid getting calories from drinks if trying to lose weight so avoid having too many sugary or alcoholic drinks.

Get off the sofa – Christmas time can end up being spent glued to the TV with lots of snacks to munch on. Sitting down uses very little energy so try to limit the time you spend being sedentary.  Potter about, do a bit of cleaning, walk the dog or go for a walk with friends and family. Being physically active can include all forms of activity, such as everyday walking cycling, housework, working out in a gym, dancing, gardening, playing active games, as well as organised and competitive sport.

Step it up – Did you know that 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on at least 5 days a week helps to prevent and manage over 20 health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, and mental health problems

We all know we should be more active, but if you feel unfit and the thought of jogging around the park or joining the January masses in the gym is not for you, try building up your activity levels slowly with moderate exercise like brisk walking or cycling. As you start to feel fitter, increase the amount and level of the activity you do and try to build up to 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Sleep – Get back into a regular sleep pattern i.e. start going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. More and more research is showing the benefits of sufficient sleep like improved immune function, reduced stress hormones, better mood and better appetite control.

Help and advice can be found on the British Nutrition Foundation’s website on http://www.nutrition.org.uk/

Health Conditions and Post Christmas Diets

Please ensure that if you suffer from a condition such as diabetes, it is advisable to speak with your GP or your dietician to ensure that the diet plan you wish to follow will be beneficial to your weight loss and health.

References: The British Nutrition Foundation

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