Stop your overindulging…

2 August 2017

Stop your overindulging…

Did you try out our Shapeshifter tool and found you overdid it this festive season? Don’t panic ‒ we’ve got all the expert advice to get back on track and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the rest of year.

You can pile on 5lbs over Christmas, according to the British Dietetic Association, just by consuming an extra 500 calories a day. On average, most of us will have consumed 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone.

Why do we overindulge?

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, indulgence is often a result of people trying to improve their mood. When we’re stressed or anxious we sometimes ‘binge’ on food or drink to make us feel better. Christmas overindulgence is often a case of too much temptation ‒ allowing ourselves to let go and eat what we want.

“We all feel guilty about overindulgence after Christmas,” says lona Heath, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association.

“But there’s no need, it’s only once a year for a week or so and, providing you don’t persist with overindulging, you won’t do yourself long-term harm. However, it reaches a point where you have to stop.”

Getting back to normal

Don’t be too drastic: “Think of it as a series of small tweaks to build up cumulatively rather than being on the wagon, starvation rations and 10-mile runs,” says lona.

Keep track of food and drink: “Try keeping a food/drink diary or use a phone app,” says lona. “It will help identify any bad habits.”

Plan meals and write a shopping list: “This takes away stress and pressure because you know exactly what you’ll be eating every day, and therefore less tempted by ready meals or takeaways,” says lona.

Swap some food choices

You can cut calories and reduce saturated fat and sugar with some simple swaps.

“Just cutting out a teaspoon of sugar from four cups of tea a day will save 60 calories a day, 420 a week, 21,940 a year. To lose 1lb in weight you need to cut 3,500 calories – over a year you could lose 6-7lb just cutting out sugar in tea,” says lona.

The Department of Health’s Change4Life campaign recommends swapping sugary drinks for low calorie drinks or water and switching to lower sugar cereals and lower fat cheeses and spreads.

Cut back on booze

A glass of wine can have the same calories as four biscuits and a pint of lager is the calorific equivalent of a slice of pizza – it’s not just your liver that suffers from drinking too much but also your waistline.

Tips for reducing alcohol consumption:

  •  Go for lower-alcohol drinks: “Try a spritzer or low-alcohol beer or wine,” suggests lona.

  • Try alcohol-free days: “Start cutting out some week nights and gradually increase them. It gives your liver a rest and cuts calories.”

  •  Pour smaller glasses of wine: 250ml glasses can hold around three units of alcohol and nearly 300 calories.

  • Stop binge drinking: The Department of Health recommends men drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol daily and women no more than 1-2 units – bear this in mind at weekends.

  • Find other ways to unwind: “People often use alcohol to unwind. Instead, ring a friend, take a shower or bath or go for a walk,” suggests lona.

  • Eat smaller portions

“If you’re smart this doesn’t necessarily mean eating less – fill your plate with 50 per cent vegetables, restricting carbohydrates and protein to 25 per cent each – you’ll still feel full but consume less calories,” explains lona.

Don’t skip meals

“Skipping meals means your blood sugar will dip, you’ll feel hungry and just grab the nearest thing – usually high sugar/ high fat snacks,” explains lona.

“Eating breakfast is proven to help lose weight. Try eggs (protein) and wholemeal toast (carbohydrate) to help you feel fuller for longer or porridge, which has a low glycaemic index, releasing energy slowly over a longer period.”

Get more active

“You need some aerobic activity which raises your heart rate and leaves you slightly out of breath – working towards 30 minutes a day five times a week,” advises personal trainer Fiona Bugler.

“This helps burn calories and boosts your sense of wellbeing. Add  some resistance work, using free weights, going to a class or working with your own bodyweight by doing press ups. This will create more lean muscle mass, boosting your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories even when at rest.”

Write down three (realistic) goals for one, three and six months, then a year: “Try committing to a weekly exercise class and/or three 30-minute brisk walks at lunchtime. Over four to six weeks you’ll notice the difference in your breathing and your waistline,” advises Fiona.

Enlist some moral support: “Meeting a friend to do an activity together is great for ensuring you turn up, as is booking (and paying) for an exercise class or signing up for a charity walk or run.”

Build up by going faster and working harder: “Even if you are just walking, set goals to walk faster and go further. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll improve, for example, walk fast for one minute, five times in week one, and by the end of the month increase this to two minutes, six times. A 65kg person will burn 75 calories strolling at 2mph for 30 minutes but 150 calories walking at 4mph.” There are also plenty of apps to try.

For more information on repairing any damage caused by overindulgence, visit our Diet and Nutrition Centre where you’ll find tips on dieting and exercise, and plenty of healthy recipes.


British Dietetic Association:

Department of Health’s Change4Life programme:  

Journal of Consumer Research: