How to avoid festive season weight gain

Christmas is a time when many of us celebrate and bond over food and this can lead to overeating or consuming foods you would not usually eat. Thankfully, it is possible to be social and still achieve your weight loss goals. To learn how, read on below:

Start the day right

‘Breakfast like a king’ is far from a myth. How you choose to start your day can determine your eating patterns for the remainder of the day. Specifically, starting the day with a high protein breakfast has been shown to reduce overeating later into the day. During the festive season, it can be tempting to eat light at breakfast time in anticipation of a feast ahead only to arrive at lunch and be put into a self-inflicted food coma. However, if you have been caught in this trap during previous years, this year, aim to eat a balanced satisfying breakfast and see how this changes your desire to overeat later into the day. Healthy sources of protein to have at breakfast include:

  • Salmon, eggs, leftover leg ham or turkey
  • Cheese, yoghurt and milk
  • Tofu and baked beans/legumes
  • Nuts/seeds and protein powder

Move Daily

It’s not uncommon for our usual exercise regime to drop off the face of the earth over Christmas. This season, prioritise movement and make a goal to keep up with your recommended weight loss trial exercise regime, make it a social walk if need be – you will thank yourself post Christmas!


Going into Christmas with the right mindset is critical for weight loss success. Specifically, say goodbye to the all or nothing approach to food and instead remember, the food does not have to be eaten all at once, it can be saved for later and there is plenty of time to enjoy the food. Similarly, if you do overeat at a meal, do not automatically think ‘I have blown it, may as well keep going’ – the best thing you can do is get back on track at your next meal.

Portion Distortion 

Christmas food is usually served buffet style, which can cause a bit of stress for those who are looking to control their weight. When plating up your dish, think about whether the amount you are serving yourself is similar to the amount you would usually eat. Some quick tips to cut back on calories without really noticing are:

  • select one source of fat per meal if possible – if the salad has avocado, instead of adding mayo and gravy, know that your fat requirements are likely covered by the avocado. If you prefer variety, aim for ½ serve avocado and then select a ½ serve of another fat, remembering we only need around ½ -1 tbsp. healthy fats per meal.
  • Choose carbs consciously – most Christmas meals contain an abundance of carbs whether it be fresh bread, roasted potatoes, pasta salad, rice salad, stuffing etc – similar to fat, select one source of carbs and aim for ¼ of your plate being carbs.
  • Dessert time – similar to the above, if there are multiple Christmas treats on offer, select one to enjoy or have ½ serve of 2. There is no shame in asking to take some treats home to enjoy another day.
  • Before going back for seconds, wait at least 15min and mindfully consider whether you are truly hungry and how you would feel after a second plate. If the food was really good but you aren’t hungry, ask to package up a plate for dinner or lunch the next day.

Simple Swaps

If you are hosting a Christmas gathering there are plenty of simple swaps you can make to cut calories such as:

  • Thickened cream >>> natural greek yoghurt flavoured with fresh berries
  • Sour cream >>> homemade tzatziki
  • Canned fruit in syrup >>> fresh berries or cherries
  • Chicken/turkey with skin and stuffing >>> skinless chicken/turkey with no stuffing
  • Roasted potato >>> steamed jacket potato with homemade tzatziki
  • Rum balls or truffles >>> dark chocolate dipped strawberries or cherries
  • Spring rolls >>> fresh rice paper rolls
  • Salted roasted nuts >>> olives
  • Salami >>> smoked salmon
  • Creamy dressed salads >>> greek salad

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