In early November I walked into a Costa Coffee shop and was offered samples of their new Christmas menu – seven weeks before Christmas. Our local café started selling mince pies in late November and a friend of mine attended an office Christmas lunch on December 4th.
And that’s the problem with Christmas if you’re trying to eat healthily, lose weight or maintain the weight you’re at – it starts too early.
I’ve seen a number of different statistics about the number of pounds put on by the average UK citizen over Christmas, but the figure quoted is generally somewhere between 2 and 5lbs. But this weight is not gained over Christmas itself, which really only lasts for two and a half days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The weight gain starts as soon as you as accept your first Christmas treat, and that could be several weeks before December 25th.
If you work in an office there will be more than the usual number of cakes, chocolates and treats sitting around, perhaps donated by grateful clients or bosses in a festive mood. And wherever you work or even if you don’t work you’re likely to be socialising a whole lot more.
Now I do actually believe that Christmas is one of those times when you should relax a little and allow yourself a few treats. It would be pretty miserable if you didn’t allow yourself to indulge at all. But Christmas doesn’t need to run from the moment you first see an open box of mince pies to your New Year’s Day hangover.
I’ll illustrate how additional food adds up to weight gain over time by using a very innocent apple as an example. If you eat one apple a day for a year, that adds up to over 18,000 calories a year, which roughly translates into 5-6lbs of body fat. Taking chocolates (Celebrations, Roses, Quality Street – the usual suspects), if you eat an average of three a day in December that’s around 4,000 calories, and a pound of fat. And then if, on top of that, you have just the one extra glass of wine or just the one mince pie…..you can see how it all adds up.
Keep this knowledge at the forefront of your mind as the December treats start appearing. Ask yourself each time you’re offered a cheese straw, slice of cake, a handful of chocolates, etc, how much weight you are going to allow yourself to gain between now and January 1st. And promise yourself that when it really is Christmas (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day), you can have the treats.