We’d love to report that the secret to avoiding weight gain over Christmas is eating mince pies for breakfast washed down with Baileys for lunch. But sadly, the solution is a little less fun.
Regularly weighing yourself throughout December could help to maintain your weight, and even help you lose weight, a new study suggests.
For the study, carried out by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University, participants were split into two groups: half were instructed to weigh themselves twice a week and monitor their food and drink intake, while the other half stuck to their usual behaviour.
The average weight change in the intervention group was -0.13kg, and +0.37kg in the comparator group. By the end of the study, the group who kept track of their weight weighed, on average, 0.49kg less than those in the comparison group.
The study, published in the BMJ, took place in 2016 and 2017, with participants weighed and measured in November and December each year and then follow-up measurements taken in January and February 2017 and 2018.
As well as weighing themselves, participants in the intervention group were given 10 top tips for weight management, such as how to monitor portions and advice on healthy snacks.
They were also given a list of how much physical activity would be needed to burn off calories found in popular food and drinks consumed at Christmas – for example, it takes 21 minutes of running to burn the calories in a mince pie and 33 minutes of walking to expend the calories found in a small glass of mulled wine, according to the researchers.
The study authors were unable to identify which of the tips led to weight loss, but they did point out that 85 per cent of participants who weighed themselves twice a week lost weight.
While the study may help those watching their weight, nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed previously told HuffPost UK there is no need to feel guilty about food, particularly over Christmas. “Food should be enjoyable,” she said. “Instead, just be mindful about balance and getting some of your staple nutrient-rich foods in too.”
In order to make healthier choices but not feel like you’re missing out, Stirling-Reed recommended stocking the house with healthy seasonal favourites such as satsumas, nuts and cranberries and remembering Christmas dinner is all about the veggies.