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

If you want to avoid weight gain over Christmas, I’m not going to be the fun police and tell you to skip the Christmas cake and only drink water; but the good news is there IS a way to keep your weight down over Christmas without missing out on the treats that come along with the festive season. If you implement some of these tips it will ensure you won’t gain any unwanted kilos or undo your hard work that you’ve put into your health throughout the year.

Read on to find out how you can keep your weight down this Christmas, still enjoy the holiday season and start the New Year strong!

While you might think those festive kilos are easy to lose once the silly season is over, the majority of people don’t lose the extra weight, at all. It is possible to get through the silly season without putting weight on and, guess what? You don’t have to skip the pudding!

How long does it take to lose your Christmas weight gain?

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.

Finding healthy recipes of your favourite Christmas meals is a great way to avoid seasonal weight gain

How can I be healthier over Christmas?

Staying healthy over Christmas is no easy feat, but it is possible. By implementing a couple, if not all of these tips you’ll find that you won’t fall into the Christmas weight gain trap

Healthy Christmas Tip #1: Stay hydrated

We often mistake thirst for hunger making it easier to reach for all the extra treats on offer at this time of year. Ensuring you drink at least 2L of water per day will not only help you stay hydrated but will help flush out any toxins. If you are heading out for some drinks, start the evening with a glass of water and have an additional glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

Healthy Christmas Tip #2: 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

Healthy Christmas Tip #3: Don’t arrive hungry to any Christmas event

Have a protein-rich snack or meal before you go. Needing some ideas for some healthy high protein snacks? If you’ve got some time at the start of the week, why not give my peanut protein bites a go to have on hand.

Healthy Christmas Tip #4: Get enough sleep during the silly season 

Burning the candles at both ends will only make it harder to stay hydrated, move your body and eat real food. Getting adequate sleep helps to maintain your overall health and wellbeing as well as your ability to handle stress… and temptations to eat sugary foods or Christmas cocktails!

VIDEO: A quick fat-burning holiday workout

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

Click on the image above and get ready to sweat!

My tips to avoid weight gain & survive the silly season

1. “Breaking even” with your weight over Christmas is actually a win!

At a time where most people are gaining a few kilos, if you are able to sustain your weight and/or exercise routine during this time then give yourself a big pat on the back, because this is a win! Remember what goes in must be burnt off, so if you know you’re going to have a few drinks through the night, get your workout done in the morning!

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

The festive season might not be the best time to aim for your best weight-loss of the year, but, don’t assume December will be a write-off either! So set realistic goals, and have realistic expectations. Your goals might simply be around achieving a minimum number of workouts or setting a maximum number of drinks at the next party!

3. Not every occasion is a ‘special occasion’ for indulgences

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Friday is not a special occasion. Neither is Saturday. We all like to treat ourselves on special occasions but with December typically being chock-full of events it might be time to pick and choose where you’re going to indulge and where you’re going to keep the treats to a minimum.

4. Pick your poison

Champagne, mince pies, Christmas ham, I know, the festive season is delicious. Personally I like to pick one thing that I know I will really savour and then I’ll choose to sacrifice something in exchange. So many of us operate with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality and this can be what does our weightloss and health the most harm. Yes, you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too, but save the leftover ham for another day.

5. Don’t stop moving

You may be a little bit out of your normal fitness routine this time of year but that doesn’t mean your exercise needs to go out the window. Schedule your workout as an appointment with yourself in your diary, or use this great time of the year as an excuse to change it up and exercise outdoors. A swim in the ocean, backyard cricket with the kids, going for a surf, the options are endless in a beautiful country like ours. During this time of year where you may not have the same structure as normal, it doesn’t hurt to shake things up.

6. BYO meals

I know that sometimes the meals you are served at Christmas events are out of your control. Where possible, why not bring a healthy meal with you so that you know that you will always have the option of eating well? 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 eat healthier at your Christmas party

My best tip to eat healthy at a party is don’t 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!

If you’re really struggling with your motivation to stay healthy, 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!

Sam Wood Christmas party pushups
Remember – what goes in must be burnt off, so don’t stop moving this holiday season.

How to keep the weight off and stay healthy on holiday

When it comes to staying healthy and not gaining weight while on holiday, it’s all about balance. You need to remember that no matter what time of the year it is, what goes in must be burned off or it will be stored as fat.

Be proactive over December & January. Get your workout done in the morning then relax knowing the rest of your day (and night!) can be enjoyed guilt-free.

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.