No need to look so glum, you really CAN enjoy the holidays without putting on weight Here's how...

This isn't actually my cat but, if it were, he'd barely be able to get his corpulent frame out of the basket (and would be looking even less impressed to be wearing such festive headgear - I think he prefers the antlers). That's because, for Felix (yes, I know it's a really obvious choice - s'what happens when you leave naming your animals to 5 year olds), winter is ALL ABOUT the feast. Come spring, it's all about getting back outdoors and working off the excess poundage. But that's not how we humans roll, and that's not what I wish for you, my lovelies. So what to do?


It seems to be a given that Christmas means weight gain.  Do the holidays have to mean the end of all good healthy eating intentions? Of course not. Step away from the Quality Street chocolates. 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 favourite Christmas tips with you here:
 
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 family; play Twister with the kids; maybe even hit the gym one day.

2 DON’T TRY TO DIET JUST NOW
Set a maintainance 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 aplan, 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
Though 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 loosing 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).

7TAKE LOW GL DISHES TO PARTIES
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 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!
 
If you want more about how to set your maintenance goal and what to ACTUALLY eat to help stave off the extra poundage, check out what's in my Christmas Survival Guide this year – yours for a snip at just £5 (that's less than the cost of a posh coffee and Christmassy treat at Starbucks or even a pair of new control pants). You can get the info by clicking here.