The average weight gain over the four week holiday season is a shocking 5 lbs (2kg) - this equates to more than two stone over five years. We weigh up the worst Christmas food culprits and find out how to break the festive binging cycle.
You only need to eat an extra 500 calories a day to rack up 5 lbs over four weeks. That equates to three pub measures of liqueur, two mince pies or a fistful of canapes. Have a treat, but don't use the fact that it's the festive season as an excuse to binge.
Use your drink order to stave off potential weight gain. Ask for port or sherry rather than creamy liqueurs and you'll save around 100 calories. A measure of vodka contains around 50 calories, so add soda water or diet tonic rather than cola to avoid unnecessary calories.
The two sweet rule
During the holidays, you'll start to see (and be offered) those giant sized tins of chocolates and sweets. Take two sweets, eat one and keep one in front of you. If anyone asks if you want more, say you already have one on the go. If you're given a tin as a present, share them at work or with friends to avoid eating the lot when you're bored on Boxing Day.
The biggest temptation during the holiday season is to crack open the mince pies, grab a glass of wine and park yourself in front of the television for as long as possible. Make sure you deserve your down time by hitting the shops during the day - walking around vigorously can burn between 300-400 calories an hour.
Moderate your mince pie
It's foolish to think you'll be able to resist tasting a few mince pies over Christmas. Make sure you eat them without cream or brandy butter, to save at least 200 calories. If you're sick of them, get some vitamin C by eating a satsuma instead.
Stay on your feet
When you're trapped inside with stressed relatives or partners, it's second nature to reach for the bottle of wine or biscuit tin. Work off your stress by wrapping presents (you'll burn off 100 calories an hour), putting up tree decorations (200 calories) or cleaning the house (300 calories).
Enjoy Christmas dinner
Even if you're watching your weight, don't beat yourself up if you indulge yourself at your Christmas meal. One meal won't make you put on weight - it's persistent bad eating habits that will give you that Christmas gut. Get back on track by making Boxing Day as healthy as you can by having a big vegetable stir fry in the evening.
When you do your Christmas food shop, it's easy to get lost in a whirl of chocolates, booze and cheese. Mark out the days on your calendar (particularly the days between Christmas and New Year) when you can eat healthily and stock up on plenty of low-fat meal options, such as grilled fish, chicken, tofu and vegetables.
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