Dealing with Christmas….


I suppose I have to face up to the approach of Christmas and inevitable weight gain it brings. In years past I’ve managed to gain as much as half a stone over Christmas, other years it’s just been a couple of pounds.

The entire interweb is awash with articles telling you how to not gain weight over Christmas, I’ve seen articles advising me to choose raw vegetable crudites over crisps (not going to happen) and take satsumas into work as a festive treat for everyone instead of cakes (yes, they’ll LOVE you for that).

According to the British Dietetic Association we gain an average of 5lb over Christmas, meaning we eat about an extra 500 calories a day over that 4 week period. More importantly it seems that few of us actually manage to lose much of it over the following year.

I’m not a fan of self deprivation, but I don’t want to undo months of hard work for the sake of a box of chocolates, so here’s a few strategies I’m using to help me stay under control.

  • Watch your attitude.

One festive party doesn’t make you gain half a stone. The problem is that for the entire month of December we convince ourselves life is one long party. Even lunch at home has to come with a mince pie, and when you’re in the shop buying sandwiches it’s hard to resist the “Christmas Dinner” version. Try and think of your Christmas celebrations as isolated events rather than a lifestyle! If you’re going to a Christmas Party tonight have fruit for breakfast and soup and a wholemeal roll for lunch, then don’t worry about what you eat at the party. Desperate for a Christmas Sandwich and an Egg Nogg latte at lunch? Then have it, but eat salad for dinner.

  • Don’t buy it!

For some reason, at Christmas, we head to the supermarket and buy a Chocolate Orange, box of Matchmakers, some After Eights and a huge tub of Roses, even though we know there are actually only going to be 2 people to eat it all. Then we think it all needs to be gone by January. Well, if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it, and you probably won’t miss it. Buy one box, or if you must buy several then make sure you put them in a cupboard and only open one box at a time. And keep that open box in a different room from the one you spend the evening in, out of eyesight so you have to get up and make an effort to eat them.

  • Plan Ahead

When you shop for the Christmas period, plan your meals AND your treats. Rather than just filling the house with snacks, think about what you will eat each day, and be realistic.  It’s fine to PLAN to eat a load of Iceland frozen canapes on the day after Boxing Day, it’s not fine to pretend you’re going to have salad, and then eat them as a “snack”. Schedule in nutritious meals that still feel like a treat, like steaks or stews. Write a shopping list and be strong and stick to it. If you’ve planned to buy a chocolate orange and a tin of Roses, and the Celebrations are on special offer then buy them INSTEAD rather than AS WELL. All you have to do is get through the supermarket trip with your willpower intact, once you’re home it’s too late.

  • Keep up the exercise

It’s a busy time of year. But when you suddenly realise that going out for a 20 minute run means that mince pie didn’t count, those 20 minutes suddenly seem worth finding. You can balance a little excess by maintaining your regular exercise routine, walking to the shops instead of driving, and taking the stairs instead of the lift. Even pulling out the Wi Fit for some Christmas Day entertainment is burning more calories than vegging in front of the TV.

  • Eat what you want

It’s Christmas, for goodness sake don’t buy low fat cheddar. Buy the good stuff, but try and keep in your head that no one is going to take it away from you. Have a small portion, savour it, enjoy the flavour, and then have some more tomorrow. Chose a box of mini mince pies from the fancy supermarket range or a local deli, rather than buying 24 value versions that don’t taste good and still make you fat. Don’t deprive yourself, or you’ll end up at a party stuffing your face with sausage rolls that you don’t even want because all you have at home is salad.

  • Don’t eat for other people

You have to take responsibility for yourself. Just because someone has prepared a huge spread of food for a party doesn’t mean you are obliged to eat it all. I’m a terrible one for tucking into food I neither want, nor like, just because I’ve noticed no one else is eating much and I don’t want the host to feel upset that no one liked their food.

  • Read the packets and nutritional information

I adore Egg Nogg lattes. A few years back there was a Starbucks a short walk from my house and I would get one almost every day over Christmas. Then I found out that a tall Egg Nogg latte contains 353 calories, or the equivalent of 2 bowls of my morning porridge, and suddenly it wasn’t quite so appealing. Now I have one or two over the Christmas season as a treat. Research has found that Women who read the food labels while shopping weigh around 9lb less than those who don’t. When you’re doing your Christmas shopping read the labels and make an educated choice about whether it’s going in your shopping basket, rather than just flinging it in because that’s what you always have at Christmas.

I think the largest part of avoiding gaining too much weight over Christmas is adjusting your mental attitude.

We think of ourselves as on a diet or off a diet, so if we’re not dieting over the Christmas period we think that we have to stuff our faces for a month. Christmas should be a fun and celebratory time of year. I WANT Mulled Wine, Snowballs and Pringles, and I want them more than I want to not gain any weight. What I don’t want is to eat rubbish because I feel obliged, feel sick and bloated and start January half a stone heavier and tired and miserable.

Remember a few pounds aren’t the end of the world.

Even if you’ve worked really hard to lose that weight, putting a little of it back on isn’t the end of the world as long as you enjoyed doing it and you feel that what you ate was worth it. Being tense and feeling that you’re “not allowed” certain foods makes you feel deprived and more likely to binge on rubbish. Enjoy your food, enjoy Christmas and keep it in proportion.

Do you have any other strategies for avoiding the Christmas bulge?!

12 Responses
  • attemptsatglamour
    December 10, 2012

    Excellent tips! I am determined not to repeat the 8lb weight gain of last Christmas (which I still haven’t lost…)

    • Lady Lipstick
      December 11, 2012

      I’ve gained that much before, it’s surprisingly easy to do!
      Then January is so miserable, then it’s Valentines Day and then Easter and you never lose it!

  • Wendy
    December 10, 2012

    I’m hoping that being overly strict at times will balance out the times when I dont want to be. So I will only have porridge for breakfast and not that massive bacon sarny on white bread and a side of crumpets just because its December and I will continue having salad or veg as a side dish and not crisps, yule log and a fiver box of quality street which I’ve bought because its a bargain.

    The three day period between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day is a no guilt session for me – I will eat what I want, when I want without caring about any of it but *only* for those three days. Hopefully that way I will face them without the extra pounds already in place, and I can return to normal(ish) diet and exercise from the 27th.

    I’ve just bought a new dress in a size smaller than I needed in September and I want to wear it!

    • Lady Lipstick
      December 11, 2012

      That’s more or less what I’m doing! Porridge for breakfast and soup for lunch, and don’t feel guilty about the occasional Christmas treat!

  • bunnthebaker
    December 10, 2012

    We’ve done all our shopping online, all p[aid for, just needs picking up on the 22nd. That way we avoid all the temptations in the supermarket and only have what we really need!

    Really great tips Gemma, I wholeheartedly agree about buying better food. Christmas is supposed to be special so make it about quality not quantity.

    • Lady Lipstick
      December 11, 2012

      That’s what I would do, if I was more organised. I’ve been struggling to stay together with a lot of travel and my house still in turmoil!

  • Emma
    December 11, 2012

    Sounds like some good sensible advice, which I am planning on following! Unfortunately it’s my birthday on the 28th so I find it difficult to get back on track on the 27th! In previous years it has meant continuing all the way to the 1st and then finding it’s too hard to get on track even then! This year I am going to enjoy a little of everything I fancy and not just eat rubbish because it’s there – in fact last January I wrote out a list of all my favourite Christmas things to remind me that as long as I have a little of each of those I will be happy (no pringles or crappy sausage rolls for me!).

    • Lady Lipstick
      December 11, 2012

      I can see how that would be hard! The list thing sounds like a great idea though!

      Happy Birthday for the 28th 😀

  • Monta Rosa @ Cake Vs Scales
    December 12, 2012

    Ooooh Xmas is so darn hard for a food lover! I totally agree with your advice about not getting treats in just because they are around and taking the view December is not one big binge.
    I think it’s hard with the sudden change of weather and our bodies are craving food food drinks to build a layer for winter but it’s not needed..I read somewhere that winter is when you start your body for summer..
    Following that my strategies so far have been – Bake healthy treats to avoid high calorie snacking & I set myself a goal of a 5km run a day for 5 days to really beat the bulge, I’m on day 3 and so far so good 🙂

  • Sophie
    December 12, 2012

    Fantastic post and it couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve been stressing out all week about how I’m going to make it through Christmas without gaining my usual half a stone. Its the office party tonight and I’ve decided to enjoy myself today and hit the gym again next week but I was sitting here questioning my decision. Thanks for the great advice you’ve made me feel much more positive, I really love both your blogs 😀

    • Lady Lipstick
      December 12, 2012

      Good, I think that’s the way to do it! Enjoy your party, but make sure that you don’t extend the party over the whole of December!

      And thank you, I’m glad you like my blogs 😀

  • ffionangharad
    December 12, 2012

    I have been doing alright up to know, but the cracks are starting to appear. I went on a night out on Saturday, followed by stodgy hangover food on Sunday, and therefore a gain on Tuesday, and this week has seen a meal out last night which ended in cake, tomorrow is a lunch out, and the celebration box has been opened. Thankfully all my meals in between are so far OK, and I’m still heading to the gym. I do want to indulge a bit over Christmas itself, so I suppose a weight gain is inevitable!