We all know that December brings Christmas parties, family gatherings, barbecues and other social events to fill our calendars. It’s a wonderful time for having fun and catching up with friends, but unfortunately, it’s usually not a great time for that number on the scales.

How much weight does the average Australian gain over Christmas? 2kgs.

While you might think you’ll lose those festive kilos as soon as the silly season is over, the majority of people never lose their Christmas weight and, even for those of us who do manage to drop the weight again, it can be a slow, frustrating journey back. The good news is that staying healthy over Christmas is no easy feat, but it is possible. Read on to find out how you can keep your weight down this Christmas, still enjoy the holiday season so you can start the new year feeling great!

How to avoid Christmas weight gain, so you can ‘survive’ the silly season!

If you want to avoid weight gain over Christmas, you can. And although I’m going to give you a range of ideas to help maintain a healthy weight this holiday season, I guarantee you that I’m not going to be the fun police. I won’t tell you to skip the Christmas cake, but I might suggest ways to make it healthier! The good new is that there are so many ways you can keep your weight down over Christmas, and you can do it without missing out on all the great things that Christmas brings.

I believe the best approach to losing your Christmas weight is… not to gain weight in December in the first place! Yes, it IS possible to get through the holiday season without gaining weight and, guess what? You don’t have to skip the Christmas pudding!

Get your mind right, and your body will follow

1. Understand that “breaking even” on your weight during Christmas… is a big win!

Christmas is a time when most people gain a few kilos so, if you are able to maintain your weight and exercise routine during this time, give yourself a big pat on the back! Seriously, this is a big win in anyone’s book. If you implement some of my tips, you’ll be able to achieve this and still enjoy the festive fun.

2. Set realistic goals, have realistic expectations, but keep things in check

The festive season might not be the best time to aim for your best weight loss result of the year and if you go too hard on yourself, you might be tempted to cheat. However, having said that, don’t assume December will be a write-off because it doesn’t have to be! Set realistic goals. Your health goals for December might simply be to achieve a minimum number of workouts each week, or that you set (and follow!) a maximum number of drinks you’ll have at the next Christmas party.

3. Accept that not every occasion is a ‘special occasion’ requiring ‘special indulgences

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Friday is not a special occasion. Neither is Saturday. And just because it’s a day in December, does NOT make every day Christmas! We all like to treat ourselves on special occasions but considering December is typically chock-full of events it might be time to add a measure of restraint and decide, ahead of time, when and where you’re going to indulge and when you’re going to stay strong, and keep the festive treats to a minimum.

How long does it take to lose your Christmas weight? A study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that Christmas weight gain could hang around for up to 6 months. Which means all that merry cheer could still be around your waistline until June!

Cooking healthy versions of your favourite Christmas meals is a great way to avoid seasonal weight gain

How to reduce your urge to overeat this festive season

1. Stay hydrated

Did you know our brains often mistake thirst for hunger? If you think you’re hungry, you’re more likely to reach for all the extra treats on offer at this time of year. And, ensuring you drink at least 2L of water per day will not only help you avoid eating for thirst, but it will also help your body flush out any extra toxins from all that festive fun!

If you are heading out for some Christmas drinks, start the evening with a glass of water and have an additional glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

2. Get enough sleep during the silly season 

Burning the candles at both ends makes it harder to stay hydrated, harder to want to exercise, and it also makes it harder to eat real, nutritious food. When you’re tired, high-calorie junk food starts to look a LOT more appealing than normal, because you’re subconsciously be looking for external energy to make it through the day. Getting adequate sleep helps to maintain your overall health and wellbeing as well as your ability to handle stress… and reduces temptations to eat sugary foods and Christmas cocktails!

3. Practice mindful eating (and drinking!)

It’s so easy to get caught up in the bottomless drinks and canape platters as far as the eye can see, but if you are mindful of what you’re eating and drinking, and practice, everything in moderation, you’re less likely to go overboard when it comes to indulging

4. Don’t stop moving

You may be a little bit out of rhythm with your normal fitness routine this time of year, but keeping up your regular exercise helps maintain your metabolism, and it’s a good way to keeping ‘health’ top of mind too. Why not make an appointment with yourself, and schedule your workout in your diary. Or, try something different and find new ways to get some exercise outdoors in the beautiful sunshine (assuming you’re in Australia!). Whether it’s a swim in the ocean, going for a surf, kicking a footy or playing backyard cricket with the kids, the options are endless in a beautiful country like ours.

If you find you’re losing your healthy routines this holiday season, use that as a great excuse to do something NEW, and get your daily 28 in a different, fun way!

How much weight does the average Australian gain over Christmas?

2kgs. While you might think you’ll lose those festive kilos as soon as Christmas is over, the majority of people never lose their Christmas weight and, even for those of us who do, it can be a slow, frustrating journey back to our original weight. The good news is that maintaining your weight at Christmas might not be easy but it is possible and, if you follow my advice, you can avoid the typical seasonal weight gain amd still enjoy the festivities, without feeling like you’re missing out.

If you’re watching your weight, have a quick protein-rich snack or meal just before you head out to your Christmas party – it’ll help you stay fuller for longer and resist all those tasty temptations!

How to eat healthier at your next Christmas event

  1. Don’t arrive to an event hungry

My best tip to eating healthy at any festive party is to never arrive starving. If you’re not ravenous on arrival, you’re less likely to dive headfirst into the cheese platter and you’ll be less likely to be tempted by the desserts passing you by. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, the key to keeping the weight off without feeling deprived is: everything in moderation.

Need some ideas for some healthy high protein snacks?
Make these tasty peanut protein bites earlier in the week, so you have them to hand before your next Christmas party

2. Pick your Christmas poison

Champagne, mince pies, Christmas ham, Christmas pud, everything is so delicious. So many of us operate with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality around Christmas time, and bingeing can do our weight loss and health goals the most harm. How I personally manage this is to pick one thing that I know I will really savour and then I’ll choose to sacrifice something else in exchange. It’s all about finding a good balance.

Yes, you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too, but maybe save that leftover ham for another day.

3. Spread the love/calories.

If you’re really struggling with your motivation to avoid the sweet treats, why not get a mate involved? Share your desserts and aim to have only a few spoonfuls each. It’s easier to stay strong and healthy when someone else has got your back!

4. BYO backup meal

I know that sometimes the meals you are served at Christmas events are completely out of your control. Where possible, why not bring a healthy meal with you so you know that you will always have a healthy meal option? MY BBQ Corn and Haloumi salad is a 28er favourite and travels well, so I know you’ll love it too!

BBQ Corn & Haloumi Salad
BBQ Corn & Haloumi Salad
Have you tried this summer corn salad recipe yet? It's full of yummy halloumi-salty, lime-zesty, BBQ corn salady goodness! With 25grams of protein per serve, this is a complete meal in itself (especially if you're watching your weight) but it's also an impressive and healthy side-salad perfect for a BBQ.
P.S. It's so tasty even meat-lovers who normally skip the salad to pile up on the extra snags will come back for more!
Get the full recipe

How to avoid weight gain on Christmas holidays

When it comes to staying healthy and not gaining weight while away on holiday, it’s always all about balance. It’s important that you should enjoy your holiday, however, if it’s also important to you that you don’t gain weight during this time, then you should keep this in mind: what goes in must be burned off or those holiday treats will be stored as fat.

Be proactive during your December and January holidays. If you get a 28 minute HIIT workout done in the morning you can relax and enjoy the rest of your day… guilt-free!

VIDEO: Try this fast, fat-burning holiday workout with me!

This is my favourite little fat burner routine when I’m short on time, or if I am on holiday. It really works up a sweat and burns some calories. Give this 100 Rep Christmas Challenge a go, it only takes 10 minutes, but trust me you’ll be feeling the burn!

TRY THIS 100 REP CHALLENGE: it’s a fast, fat-burning workout to burn those holiday calories off!

Christmas Desserts – Healthy Recipe Swaps

Sugar-Free Christmas Cake
This Totally Messed-With Christmas Cake is a winner for the festive season! Unlike traditional Christmas cakes that are chock full of dried fruit and sugar, this cake has wholesome ingredients and lots of Christmas spices.
Get the full recipe
White Christmas Macaron Trifle
This white Christmas macaron trifle is an excellent way to impress you family at Christmas, it's so tasty they wont believe it's good for them!
Get the full recipe
Gingerbread Chew
Low-Sugar Ginger Chew Biscuits
These low-sugar biscuits don't snap or crunch…they chew!  And if being a tasty, healthy treat wasn't more than enough, these biscuits have other hidden health qualities thanks to a generous dose of ginger in each serve.
Ginger is a medicinal herb known as an antioxidant with natural anti-nausea qualities, so if you suffer from travel sickness make a batch of our ginger chew biscuits before your next trip; and if you're a mum-to-be, these can help relieve morning sickness too!
Get the full recipe
No Bake Christmas Slice
Slice, slice baby! This healthy No-Bake Christmas Slice will put you on the top of the nice list – and once it makes it's appearance, this healthy slice will become one of your most requested Christmas treats!
Get the full recipe
Berry Swirl Cheesecake
This is the perfect jaw-dropping cake to take along to Christmas lunch to impress even the biggest sugar fan. It not only tastes decadently delicious but it looks pretty special too.
Get the full recipe

Download your FREE silly season survival guide now!

What’s inside my Silly Season Survival Guide:
  • A range of delicious & nutritious festive recipes to enjoy over the holiday period
  • Fast and effective fat-burning HIIT workouts you can do quickly, from the comfort of your own home (or holiday home!)
  • Motivation & mindset tips to help you survive the silly season… without the usual weight gain!

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Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change to their lives. Sam Wood has over 20 years experience as a personal trainer and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators in the health & fitness industry. Sam is the founder and personal trainer of 28, Australia’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program, and he's also the proud owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed, based in Brighton, Melbourne.