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How to keep the pounds off over the holidays

Avoid Christmas weight gain with these need-to-know tips

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The holidays are the perfect time to get people together and spend time with family. But Christmas parties tend to have an abundance of treats and free-flowing drinks, which make it easy to overindulge. So when it comes to enjoying delicious buffets and cocktail events without the regret, Registered Dietitian, Consultant Nutritionist and psychology of eating expert Hala El-Shafie, has some top tips.

First of all, Hala advises looking at your diary at the beginning of December and pacing yourself when it comes to parties and alcohol intake. "It's important to limit alcohol intake as that not only stimulates the appetite but short of pouring oil down your neck, alcohol is the most calorific thing you can have," she told Cover Media. "It also switches off that centre in your brain which tells you that you are full. It has seven calories per mil and fat has got nine calories per mil. Carbs and proteins have four calories per mil, so in context if you are drinking quite a lot you will be consuming a lot of additional calories."

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christmas dinner

A few easy tips can help you to avoid gaining weight over Christmas

But for those who are in a celebratory mood, Hala suggests having several dry days in the lead up to the holidays. And if you are going to have a few tipples while out and about, it's best to ensure you're drinking plenty of water. "Sparkling water in between drinks with lemon or lime helps avoid peer pressure from others wanting you to drink, and it also keeps you hydrated. It's a good idea to have as much crushed ice in an alcoholic drink as possible - this will help slow down the rate of your drinking as well as adding hydration in," she explained.

Now when it comes to food, Hala insists that one day of indulgence at Christmas is perfectly fine. But for other events and parties, try to make sure you eat a good meal beforehand, including foods such as salmon, couscous and vegetables, or you'll be filling up on empty calories through canapes and drinks. "It's easy in a half an hour period at a Christmas party to consume easily over half of the recommended calories and fat when someone is topping up your glass and the canapes keep coming round," shared Hala.

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It's also important to slot in some exercise during the busy holiday period too. Some good ideas for fitness during December include dancing at parties and walking in the morning, or doing fun activities like fitness DVDs, or games like Wii-Fit. "It's not about one big change, it's about being aware. Taking a day or a week out of a 52-week routine is not a deal breaker," added Hala.

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