What is it about Christmas that makes people freak out that they are going to pile on the pounds?

Do the holidays have to mean the end of all good healthy eating intentions?

Of course not. Step away from the Quality Street chocolates!

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Let’s get this thing into perspective.

For most people Christmas is no more than a generous handful of days at best. Christmas Eve, the Day itself, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and maybe a Christmas party or two along the way.

I’m going to share some of my favorite Christmas tips with you here, but the top two things to always keep in mind are:

It’s not your last meal, so why eat like it is? And always have a plan…

1. Do more than just survive the holidays

How about you choose a goal for the month of December to keep moving forward in your health or weight loss journey.

It doesn’t have to be a big one.

It could just be to ensure you move yourself every day; take the stairs, not the lift, go for a walk with familyplay Twister with the kids, maybe even hit the gym one day.

2. Don’t try to diet just now…

Set a maintenance goal instead – this is much more realistic and it is achievable, even at this time of year.

It will also give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived, or that you’ve failed, which in turn means you’re more likely to rebel (and this is code for heading straight for the box of chocolates without a second glance).

3. Always have a plan

If you don’t have a plan (for parties, going out, visiting friends, having family over, and so on) you are setting yourself up for problems.

You know what they say in business: fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Same for healthy living and weight loss.

With a plan you will still have the right nutrition choices in the house and it will be much easier for you to succeed. Before you go to bed each night, plan out your food for the next day.

This is never more true than at Christmas, when parties, chocolates, cookies and “treats” are just about everywhere – especially office kitchens.

4. Watch your portion sizes

Especially when it comes to fast-release carbs like white potatoes, pastry, breaded items, cakes, biscuits and other sweet things.

5. Celebrate the side dish

christmas diet hacks_2Though every meal and snack should contain protein, this is the one time of year that you can really go large when it comes to Christmas dinner and still make excellent choices.

Avoid the white potatoes and Yorkshire puddings (my family serve them with roast meat of ANY kind), but make a big deal of the veggies: orange and cranberry red cabbage, anyone? Coconut roasted sprouts? And what about a fluffy cauliflower mash with extra garlic and cheese. Does that sound like deprivation to you?

6. Don’t go to a party hungry

If you do, you will be fighting a losing battle.

Have a low GI snack before you go – just a little something that includes protein and slow release carbs (cottage cheese or unsweetened nut butter on an oatcake, for example).

7. Take a low GI dish to a party.

There’s no reason you can’t take your own food to a party.

Make enough for sharing; the host will probably thank you for it. Remember that this way of eating is both nutritious AND delicious.

Don’t feel you need to explain to anyone who will listen about why you had to bring your own food. No one is thinking you are weird.

They probably haven’t even noticed!

8. Out of sight

Keep the family’s chocolates and sweets out of sight so you’re not tempted to tuck in just because they’re there.

Ever heard of the ‘see food and eat it’ diet?

9. Limit the alcoholic drinks

Even without full-sugar mixers, alcohol is just plain sugar and will contribute to weight gain.

Give sweet creamy drinks a wide berth especially. My top picks are champagne, red wine, or vodka and tonic (and out of choice, I’d go for Fever Tree for quality).

10. Be gentle on yourself

Christmas is supposed to be fun. If you do happen to overindulge, enjoy it in the moment but get right back on track afterwards. Tomorrow is always a second chance!

Connect with Expert Ailsa Hichens

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