Festive Season Mistakes that Make You Gain Weight

A close up of a measuring tape around Santa's big belly.

The festive season is here but that doesn’t mean that your diet has to go out the window and that you need to gain loads of extra weight!

Checkout these top 12 mistakes that make you gain weight over the festive season so that you know what to avoid!

Mistake #1: Abusing the Party Attitude:


It is great to get into the festive season but many people rationalise splurging on treats during the holiday season by convincing themselves that it is OK because it is a special occasion.

Occasional splurging isn’t typically harmful during the Christmas season, but repeating that free for all splurge for a whole week can provide 1/2 a kg worth of calories for the average person.

Mistake #2: Using Large Plates

Standard dinner plates have slowly increased in size over the past few years and if you use large dinner plates whilst at a Christmas party, you are likely to eat more.

Instead of eating a mountain of food during Christmas, try only taking three items at a time and ensure that you can still see your plate under the food. You should have a layer of food to eat, not a mountain.

Mistake #3: Sitting or Standing Too Close too Food


It can be hard to resist temptation when you are surrounded by an abundance of food. Instead of sitting or standing near where the food is, put some distance between you and the food. Keep the dishes off from the table you are sitting at so that you have to physically get up and make a conscious effort to eat more food.

If the food is just in front of you, you are highly likely to over indulge – even when you are not hungry.

Mistake #4: Forgetting about Fiber

Fiber helps to boost appetite control by increasing satiation and promoting blood sugar control. Many traditional holiday dishes such as white dinner rolls, cookies and lollies contain little or no fiber which makes them easy to overeat.

Instead, add fiber to your holiday meal through sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread or veggies such as green beans, pumpkin and brocolli.

Mistake #5: Buttering Up


Adding 1 tablespoon of butter to your mashed potatoes and another tablespoon of butter to your dinner roll, which probably already contains butter, adds an extra 204 calories and nearly 100 percent of your daily saturated fat limit to your plate.

Butter is also added to gravy, pie crusts, cookies, roasts, cooked vegetables and creamy sauces. You can still enjoy your buttery treats without going overboard. Choose the food that you really love to eat and skip what you don’t love.

Mistake #6: Thinking Any Dish Containing Fruits or Vegetables is Healthy

Just because a dish is made from fruit, it doesn’t mean it is healthy. For example, cranberries alone can be a delicious and healthy dish but cranberry sauces are packed with excessive sugar and artificial ingredients which add extra calories to your dinner plate.

When possible, choose fresh or frozen over the canned varieties. One cup of fresh cranberries contains only 46 calories whereas a half cup serving of jellied cranberry sauce contains 220 calories.

Mistake #7: Covering your Food in Sauces and Gravy


Depending on the ingredients, turkey gravy can have up to 100 calories per serving. This may not seem high but it can nearly double the calorie content of a single serving of white meat turkey.

Cheese sauces contain up to 230 calories per serving, increasing the calorie content of steamed veggies from light to heavy.

If you want to eat sauces, take it on the side of your dish and portion them lightly. It is better to dip food into sauces than to pour the sauces over the top as you will eat less calories this way but still enjoy the flavour of the sauce.

Mistake #8: Adding Additional Toppings

Sweet toppings on cakes and pies can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday dishes. Marshmallows on top of yams and pies, or whipped cream on top of cakes can increase calories by more than 100 calories.

Dessert will taste just as good without all the excessive toppings. If you must have your sweet, creamy topping, use modest amounts of varieties made without artificial ingredients.

Mistake #9: Eating Light and Feasting on Dessert


Christmas desserts can easily match or surpass the calorie content on an entire savoury meal. One slice of pecan pie has approximately 500 calories which is roughly the same amount of calories that you would get in a serving of turkey, stuffing, mashed potato and gravy – combined!

A scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream on the pie can increase the calorie content of that pie to 700 calories.

Instead, try trimming your dessert sizes to half a slice or taking a bite size nibble of a few options so that you can still try the desserts that you like.

Mistake #10: All Or Nothing Mentality

If you think dessert is your diet’s worst enemy then think again. The “All or Nothing” mentality is a mistake during Christmas as once individuals “break their diet” by eating food that they wouldn’t normally eat, leads them to think “I’ve already ruined my diet – I am just going to eat whatever I want”.

In some cases, overeating becomes a form of self punishment for poor eating and prompts desires to starve afterwards, triggering a cycle of overeating, under-eating and eventual weight gain.

Christmas is a time to enjoy food with your friends and family and if you don’t limit yourself to the extreme, then you can take a more relaxed approach to food.

Mistake #11: Binge Drinking


Christmas drinks can be unknowingly rich in calories and provide less satiation and similar amounts of calories as food. Sugary drinks such as cocktails and juices can offset your blood sugar and appetite control.

Alcohol can make overeating a near given because it inhibits your ability to remain conscientious about your food intake. Alcohol contains more calories per gram than carbs, protein or fat and can also slow your metabolism.

One cup of full fat eggnog contains 223 calories and two glasses of wine adds more than 200 calories to your meal.

For the low calorie alcohol option, stick to clear spirits with soda and lime, instead of high calorie cocktails and eggnog.

Mistake #12: Stressing Too Much

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to overeating and weight gain during the holidays and throughout the season. Stress can cause your body to produce cortisol which leads to an increase of appetite and weight gain.

Stress can also increase cravings for calorie rich foods because they bring emotional comfort and tripper the release of feel good chemicals such as serotonin in your brain.

During the Christmas season, relaxation and decreasing stress can help support digestion and make it easier to connect your bodies internal cues to support more attentive eating.

The Takeaway

The Holiday season is there to enjoy so indulge a little bit with your friends and family but don’t go on a week long binge. Fill up on fresh veggies, lean meats and salads and then enjoy small pieces of dessert. Christmas should be an enjoyable time of the year, not a time to stress heavily over your diet.

Have a great Christmas season!

Originally posted in Live Strong

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Posted Under: Healthy Eating


Written by Angeli - Help For Fitness

Angeli is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and founder of Help For fitness. Angeli is currently studying a Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coaching course. Angeli enjoys training, having fun and eating delicious and healthy food.

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