7 ‘Festive Eating’ Mistakes That Might Be Getting In The Way Of Your Weight Loss Goals

Missteps you might not even realize you’re making.


Women's Health |

Your spirits are high, the bubbly is flowing, the holidays are approaching and the last thing on your mind is your diet. But there a few little tricks to ensure that you make the most of the festivities without totally undoing all of your hard work throughout the year.

Dietician Sandi van Zyl says the best approach is to enter the festive season, is with a proper game-plan.  “No one wants to be caught off-guard or unprepared.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have the occasional treat. You just need to keep control of the situation so that you’re not starting the New Year on a back foot, having to play catch-up for the first few months,” she says.

Whether you’re travelling to an exotic location, visiting family or friends, chilling at home or burning the candle at both ends, these basic principles will apply:

1/ Don’t Skip Breakfast On The Big Day

Many of us are guilty of skipping breakfast on Christmas day because we know we have a big lunch ahead. Rather try to include high-fibre carbohydrates like oats, or seeded rye toast with a lean protein like an egg and healthy fats like avocado in your breakfast to keep you feeling fuller for longer and help you avoid snacking throughout the morning.

A healthy breakfast will also steady your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels up. “If craving smoothing sweet, try a home-made smoothie (made with frozen banana, mixed berries and fat-free plain yoghurt) or frozen strawberries and/or banana dipped in chocolate,” says Sandi.

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2/ Don’t Overeat

“Don’t stock the ‘treats cupboard’ with a month’s worth of treats — they’re likely to last one week max (if you’re lucky) and then the cupboard will need to be stocked again,” says Sandi. Rather don’t keep a supply of treats in the house to tempt you – having to get into the car to go to the shops to buy the treat is usually quite a good deterrent!

Weight gain isn’t always caused by what you eat, but rather the extra calories that you don’t burn off. If you eat out, try to share a pizza with your friend instead of eating a whole pizza yourself, order pasta with tomato and vegetables not Carbonara with cream or order a lean chicken fillet burger with no bun. It’s about making smart choices while still satisfying your tastebuds.

3/ Think Moderation

There’s the old saying ‘everything in moderation’ that still rings true. We all overindulge during the festive season, but if you are really worried about going overboard with the ‘feasting’, keeping a food diary of what you’ve eaten over the last few days can help you ‘say no’ to that extra mince pie. If you don’t have time for a food diary just make a mental note of what you’re putting in your mouth.

Sandi says, “If you’re going to be attending lots of functions and/or parties, remember to eat something small before-hand so that you’re not standing in front of a buffet table or the ‘chips and dip’ section with a growling stomach (a sure recipe for disaster when it comes to portion control).”

READ MORE: 10 Ways To Lose Weight And Avoid Overeating This Holiday Season

4/ Don’t Sip And Snack While You Cook

We’re all guilty of snacking and sipping away at a refreshing drink while we wait for that pot roast. Did you know that a can soda or a fruit juice is the caloric equivalent of a piece of fruit and a slice of toast? Or that a full cream latte easily delivers close to 140 calories? Keep that glass of water handy while you’re slaving away in the kitchen  it’s more refreshing and it will keep you hydrated and energised for the dinner party ahead.

5/  Eat-In If You Can

It’s tempting to eat out every other day when you’re on holiday, but if you’re enjoying a ‘staycation’ at home, there’s no excuse not to bring the party to your house and treat your friends to a home-cooked meal, without the hidden calories.

“If having a braai, save some of the meat/chicken and enjoy it in a whole-grain wrap for lunch the next day (add plenty of salad and some cut-up pineapple),” says Sandi.

6/ On the road…

For day-trips to the beach or road trips to your holiday destination, Sandi advises taking home-made (not microwave) popcorn, lean game biltong and/or roasted chickpeas instead of chips, and juicy fresh fruit instead of sweets and biscuits. “Opt for sparkling or still water instead of fizzy cool-drinks (or take along some ice-cold home-made smoothies),” she says.

7/ Hydration is important

Sandi says, if you drink alcohol, remember to always have water with you, so that you’re not using alcohol to quench your thirst.  “Also add lots of ice to your wine and where possible opt for a white wine spritzer (wine and soda water) instead of straight wine and a light cider or beer instead of a regular one,” she says.

READ MORE: 4 Kinda Embarrassing Signs Of Dehydration Nobody Talks About

Bonus tip

If you have time off of work, try and be more active — do park runs, go for hikes on the mountain or walk around your local botanical gardens. “Spending more energy will allow you to be a little more lenient when it comes to your food intake,” says Sandi.

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