How Not to Gain Weight This Christmas Season, According to a Nutritionist

avoid holiday weight gain

The next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind of rich foods (cheeseboard, tick; Quality Street, tick), booze, rushing around (whether it’s last-minute gift shopping or cramming in catch-ups with your friends) and late sugar-fuelled nights. All of which can culminate in unwanted weight gain, which results in a rather sad-looking January.

But what if we said you can enjoy all the frivolity without piling on the pounds? Nutritionist and Psycle London CEO Rhian Stephenson shares her guide for doing just that. Read on to find out how you can enjoy all the social perks of the festive season without ending up feeling bloated, tired and in need of a detox.

Nail the Mornings

“The Bed of Nails Acupressure Mat (£32) is my saving grace,” Stephenson says. “It is an incredible home treatment for stimulating energy and easing tension. It also helps the body get rid of toxins and stimulates circulation and the immune system. Use it for 10 to 20 minutes every morning.” 

avoid holiday weight gain
Bed of Nails Acupressure Mat $80

“Follow with 500 milliliters of water, the juice of one whole lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper; this combination will do wonders for your mood, skin, energy and metabolism,” Stephenson tells us. 

Get Your Greens in Early

“During the festive period, you can go days without hitting your daily quota of fruit and vegetables, and this means you are missing out on essential nutrients. To combat this, I always recommend a green smoothie in the morning; not only is it a nutrient powerhouse, but it will have you kick-starting the day feeling light and energized,” Stephenson says. 

Make this your breakfast: Add spinach, lemon, celery, kale, avocado, raw coconut water, blueberries, flax seed and coriander (great for detoxification) into a NutriBullet 12 Piece Set (£58) with some ice.

avoid holiday weight gain
Nutri Bullet 8 Piece Set $60
  • The greens will provide you with all of the vitamins and minerals you need.
  • Lemon is alkalizing and stimulates the liver.
  • Coconut water will hydrate and replace lost electrolytes.
  • Blueberries are high in antioxidants and will help protect against the free radicals from alcohol.
  • Avocado is a great source of omegas and will support your skin.
  • Flaxseeds give a rich supply of fibre to help bind and eliminate toxins. 

Don't Stop Moving

“Whatever happens, don’t stop your exercise regimen,” Stephenson says. “Most people feel overwhelmed by the holiday season because the indulgence in food and alcohol is compounded by the fact that they tend to cut down or stop exercising entirely. This will make everything you do feel far worse, so even if you can’t fit in your usual regimen—make an effort to keep moving. Exercise will also help your skin glow and prevent water retention from alcohol and lack of sleep.

“Try walking more and schedule your classes for mornings or lunchtimes if you need to keep your evenings clear. Even if it’s just a quick skip, Tabata set or energising yoga class, move every day to keep your circulation healthy and your energy up.”

Try these at-home workout videos for when you really don’t want to exercise.

Brew a Batch of Tea

“I make batches of nettle tea and drink it throughout the day—try Napiers Organic Nettle Leaf Tea (£8). Nettle is a natural diuretic and also great for the liver, helping the body process toxins. Cold-pressed ginger and lemon shots are also fantastic to support your immune system and flush toxins from your body,” Stephenson says. 

avoid holiday weight gain
Napiers Organic Nettle Leaf Tea $10

Strategize Your Food Intake

“One of the hardest things to manoeuvre through are canapés and dinners,” Stephenson says. “Regardless of the event, most likely the choices will be a far cry from what you usually eat. When in doubt, try food combining. The body has a hard time processing lots of different types of foods. High-carbohydrate, high-fat and high-protein combinations are a nightmare on digestion and leave you feeling sluggish, uncomfortable and bloated.

“One way to decrease discomfort is to stick to one group: Choose to have either carbohydrates with veggies or protein with veggies. And reserve fruit for snacking only, rather than with a meal. This will prevent you from indulging in all of the different combinations, and help keep your digestion as calm and efficient as possible.”

Make Your Treats Count

“We are often faced with a constant stream of desserts and treats over the holiday season, and most of the time we just eat them because they are there,” Stephenson says.

“Do a sense check before you indulge:

Is it something you really love?

Is it really worth how it will most likely make you feel? 

“If you are able to look at these situations from this point of view, it makes it easy to avoid the Quality Street. Save your indulgences for what you really enjoy.”

Supplement for Survival

“Choose a few key supplements that will help you stay energised and help your body process the excess food and drink,” Stephenson says.

Chlorella: Algae is a fantastic detoxification aid. It helps oxygenate the blood, is a great source of B12 (vital for mood and energy), binds to toxins in the blood (so they don’t come out in your complexion) and helps stimulate the digestive process. Chlorella is great for a hangover, too. Try Sun Chlorella (£18).

Liver complex: I take Biomedica UltraLiv (£13) throughout the holiday season. It has high-dose botanical cholagogues and hepatic-stimulants like milk thistle, dandelion and artichoke that help support the phases of liver detoxification.

B complex: Alcohol and caffeine deplete your body’s supply of B vitamins, which are essential for energy production, mood and metabolism. A good quality B complex like Thorne B Complex #12 (£13) will help prevent big swings in mood, energy and blood sugar.”

Get an Early Night

“Over the next few weeks, aim to get some early nights in whenever possible. Lack of sleep will sustain an elevated cortisol level (which can lead to weight gain around the middle), disrupt your blood sugar and keep you craving stimulation in the form of caffeine and sugar. No matter what is happening, you need to book in some ‘you time’ during the party season,” Stephenson says.

Next up, some expert words of wisdom to lift you out of a workout rut.

Opening Image: Mango

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