Christmas is on its way! ‘Tis the season to be jolly, falalalala, lalalala, etc. It is also the season of pure indulgence; tins of Roses and Quality Street, whipped/pouring/ice cream, rich desserts, glazed meat and vegetables, mince pies, Christmas coffees, candy canes and of course, alcohol.

The Daily Mail featured an article about Christmas Calories Stress. Apparently, two thirds of women are actually dreading Christmas because they are anxious about the extra pounds they’ll gain over the holidays. A survey said that 67 per cent of woman hate how their stomachs look after Christmas. Harley Street clinic LoveLite says that this has brought a demand for non-surgical fat reduction treatments around Christmas time, which has seen a 200 per cent increase on last year.

I can completely understand why you would feel anxious about maintaining a good diet and exercise routine over the Christmas period. But, please do not resort to expensive and painful surgery. Do not fear! You can enjoy Christmas completely guilt free if you are sensible and strong willed. No one wants to feel food-regret or feel urgghhhh on the day you’ve looked forward to for 364 days of the year.

Festive Food

First of all, food: There is no need to deprive yourself at the dinner table. Personally, I will spend the week, or just a few days before, eating very well and not too much. By too much, I mean no binging – only eating what I need, and stopping when I am full. I will also pass on dessert, because I am not a lover of them anyway. Avoid eating the whole chocolate tin whilst watching Love Actually on the sofa – eat one or two of your favourites (this is allowed!) so that you are satisfied. When the taste loses that Hmmmmmmmyummy! feeling, stop, and accept that you are satisfied and do not need more. This is the same with nibbles, like crisps or nuts. Save some for the rest of the family! Another trick is to spread out your treats – instead of having a mince pie every day, space it out so it’s every few days, or once a week.

On the day, eat a good breakfast – do not skip breakfast in order to ‘save yourself’ for the big meal. Your body will go into starvation mode and your body and brain will go crazy at the dinner table. My family, and most, I believe, sit down for ‘dinner’ around 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock. If you are peckish between breakfast and this time, do not starve! Nibble on some nuts or fruit. Don’t reach for the chocolates sitting on the coffee table, they won’t fill you up!

My culinary genius Mother makes tons of food and leaves everything on the table, buffet style. In the past, I have gone crazy with the food, and piled it up on my plate finishing everything just because it’s so damn tasty and have that “It’s Christmas! It’s allowed!” mentality. But, this just leaves me feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and inevitably guilty. Instead, fill your plate sparingly, and then when you have finished, wait a few minutes, drink some water, and decide whether or not you really need that extra mountain of food. You probably won’t. Take the same approach with dessert, and chances are you will be full enough not to snack on anything else after dinner.

If you are really serious about losing weight over Christmas, there are some alternatives that will be less damaging. Swap roast potato for boiled sweet potato; it’s more nutritious and won’t bloat you like regular potato. Swap thick sliced appetiser bread for olives or pickles, etc etc. Think about what you’re putting in your mouth.

Alcohol

Now, Christmas evening: I do not drink, so I cannot comment on this with complete empathy. But I imagine that it’s easy to get caught up in social drinking over the festive period. 1. Cut down on the drinking. You don’t really want to get blind drunk anyway, do you? 2. Try swapping the high calorie drink for a low calorie choice.

Wine is the most calorie-friendly selection with a typical 20 calories per ounce. Each 5-ounce glass would then be 100 calories with no cholesterol, sodium or fat. If you’re going to drink high calorie liquor, use calorie-free mixers like diet soda or diet tonic water. Choosing light beers will drop your caloric intake without sacrificing much flavour.

Christmas Exercise

So what about exercise? It is very cold. Who wants to leave the cosy, warm living room for a freezing walk to the gym only to slug your guts on a treadmill? (Not me) Also, like many young adults, I will be trailing back to Essex to spend the best part of a week at my Mums house, where I am not even enrolled in a gym. I like to fit some sort of exercise into my day every day. My mums house is the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and winding country roads. So my favourite exercise at home is a long, hearty dog walk with my Staffy, Roxy. My mum/a friend and I pile on the layers, hats, scarves, gloves, wellies galore, and enjoy the country air. Actually, my family have a tradition of a long dog walk after dinner with the whole brood, Christmas or just your average Sunday. You don’t have to rush out to the nearest dog pound (A dog is for life, not just for Christmas), you can walk with a friend and take in the sights of your home town with some good conversation, no animals needed.

So – think sensibly over Christmas, but do not deprive yourself. Banish that guilty feeling. Christmas is about enjoying yourself and relaxing with your loved ones, and should not be spent stressing. And, if you do slip up, remember – it’s only one day of the year. Slip ups are normal. Just get straight back on that horse (or reindeer) tomorrow.