It’s Christmas time – parties, excess and food, glorious food – even us usually healthy physio’s love to eat (or overeat)!

With all the fun and celebrations Christmas brings, it can also bring the dreaded Christmas spread – of the waist. Many people dread this time of year, when they’ve managed to eat well to be faced with a month-long binge on feasting on too much food, of the wrong types and often an increase in alcohol.

As a qualified nutrition professional (as well as a physio) I’m often asked to help people achieve optimal health by providing information and advice about health and food choices. So here are my tips for how to avoid weight gain over Christmas.

1. Start with the vegetables

Start by filling up on the vegetables and salads before the sweet things. Consider bringing a dish that includes vegetables to your family gathering.

2. Savor the food

By eating slower you can take your time to enjoy the holiday food and allow you brain time to register that you’re full once you’ve eaten enough.

3. Ask yourself ‘Am I still enjoying this?’

When lots of delicious food is on offer, sometimes you can feel obliged to continue eating. It’s OK to take a break and come back later if you’re still hungry.

4. Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals to save up for a big festive feast is a surefire way to overindulge. Keeping up with your regular meals throughout the day makes it easier for you to control your eating during big dinners

5. Save up for what you love

When you know one of your favorites is on the menu, make sure not to load up on ‘meh’ food just because its available.

6. Avoiding alcohol

Reducing your alcohol consumption can really help keep you healthy over Christmas. Alternating between alcohol and water is a good way to reducing your intake without missing out on the festive fun.

7. Don’t stop moving

Try and resist the urge of falling into a food coma and put the food to good use. Make walking or backyard sport part of the day to make sure you keep burning energy over Christmas.

Most importantly enjoy yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you do overindulge. A slipup here or there shouldn’t derail your healthy eating habits.

If you do notice the scales creeping up, remember the key is to eat the right amount of the right food at the right time so don’t start on any crazy restrictive diets as part of a New Years resolution, they are very unlikely to work and you will probably find yourself right back where you started.