5 Worst Christmas Food Mistakes And How To Avoid A Flab Explosion 2

It’s the Christmas holidays again and we’re all looking forward to fun, partying and spending time with friends and family.

But for those of us on a health and fitness journey, sometimes there’s the fear of a fat belly or butt just waiting to burst out of us and the dread of holiday weight lurking in the back of our brains.

If you’re not careful this can bring the holiday spirit crashing down and you’ll end up kicking yourself for all that lovely food that you’ve scoffed and all that time in the gym wasted for the sake of a few days of food pleasure.

Well it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s Christmastime, so you need to enjoy yourself. And that includes indulging a bit.

But there has got to be a limit. According to recent surveys, in the UK over the Christmas holidays we are likely to eat 7,000 calories or more on Christmas Day alone, including a massive 250g of fat.

That’s three and a half times the average recommended daily intake for women and nearly three times the average recommended daily intake for men. Extend that over a period of a few days and you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

Find out what your recommended daily calorific intake should be.

To burn off just those calories from Christmas day, you’ll need to do:

  • 23 hours of walking,
  • 14 hours of aerobics
  • 9 hours of total sprint commitment on the treadmill.

In fact, nearly a day’s worth of calories will be consumed before that festive Christmas day lunch even begins.

A big slice of the problem is that your brain tells you when to eat and your stomach tells your brain when to stop eating. But it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate back to your brain, by which time you will have eaten way more food than you actually need.

If you’re serious about your long-term fitness goals then you need to sidestep the holiday health heartache and still have a great time over Christmas.

Of course you have to indulge, but if you follow some of the rules below you’ll be able to have a happy holiday as well as dodging the worst of the holiday weight gain.

Read on to learn how to avoid the 5 common holiday eating mistakes, so you don’t enter the new year far flabbier than you left this one.

Food Mistake 1:

The All-Or-Nothing Attitude

What Is It?

You’re determined to be strict and stay completely healthy, then you take a few bites of food you normally avoid, and this can seem like a failure. You start to think that you’ve already lost the battle, so the will power collapses and you decide that you may as well just keep on chowing down, as all is already lost.

Why Is It Bad?

Ironically, it’s the people who are fitter and healthier that are more likely to fall into this trap. Once you get into this cycle, overeating can sometimes then trigger a period of self-punishment, with a desire to go on starvation afterwards. This can then trigger another cycle of overeating followed by under-eating and a particularly nasty journey of sporadic weight gain.

How Can You Beat It?

There’s a physically easy – but sometimes mentally tricky – way to dodge this one. Don’t start your Christmas by steering away from everything that’s bad for you. Allow yourself some foodie pleasures that you would normally avoid. Pick your food battles and don’t be hijacked by that all-or-nothing mindset. Recognise it and avoid the thought stampede.

Food Mistake 2:

The Big Plate Problem

What Is It?

Standard dinner plate sizes are on the increase and if you use monster-sized dinner plates, you’re likely to eat monster portions too. This is fine if you’re piling clean fuel into your body as a way to slap on more muscle in combination with an intensive workout program, but not for seasonal rich indulgent foods.

Why Is It Bad?

As soon as those huge dinner plates start to be piled high with Christmas treats you’re heading down a slippery slope and those festive 7,000 calories per day are going to be all too easy to achieve.

How Can You Beat It?

Swap out your monster-sized dinner plate for a smaller one. Maybe make sure that you can still see your plate underneath the food.

One of my contacts has helped to launch the Full Stop Bowl, designed to change lifestyle habits and help people to eat less rather than diet. This bowl is the same size as your stomach.


Food Mistake 3:

The Gravy Trap

What Is It?

All those gravy boats, jugs and pourers flowing with meat stock, cheese sauce, cranberry sauce and honey. It’s a temptation to drown your holiday food in all this juicy goodness.

Why Is It Bad?

These sauces can be your downfall. A single serving of pork gravy can contain up to 100 calories. Beef gravy around 80 calories and turkey gravy around 70 calories.

Cheese sauce can hit you with up to 120 calories from a single serving, while cranberry source can hit you with anywhere from 120 to 200 calories per serving.

If you start getting adventurous with your serving sizes, then this little lot can add 500 calories to your holiday meal. And that’s a lot of extra training needed to flush out that fat.

How Can You Beat It?

Just make sure you don’t soak your food in these sauces. Add a little, not a lot. Also, maybe use it as a dipping sauce rather than pouring it all over your food – this can reduce the amount of sauce that you use by some way.

Food Mistake 4:

The Food Proximity Problem

What Is It?

During the Christmas period there are so many more dishes and plates of snack food laid out. They’re all over the place. And just sitting or standing next to this pile of snack traps can be enough to make you start to guzzle.

Why Is It Bad?

When you’re surrounded by an abundance of snack food, all that extra sensory information bombarding your brain can be difficult to defend against. A study carried out in 2011 even showed that sitting near desserts increases the size and variety of our sweets choices.

And sitting within arm’s reach of all those other tasty snacks between meals can add an extra 1,500 calories to your daily intake over the festive period.

How Can You Beat It?

Being aware of the danger is a lot of the battle. Make sure you sit or stand further than arm’s reach away from those bowls of snacks, so you have to actually get up to get to them. Putting a bit of distance between you and the snack goes a long way to cutting down those calories.

And when you do go grab some, take a smaller handful and pick them from your hand rather than pouring the whole lot into your mouth. I’m very good at sliding a mountain of snacks into my mouth if I’m not careful.

Food Mistake 5:

The Holiday Tipple Hazard

What Is It?

A lot of us, me included, have a lot more to drink around Christmas. With all the late-night parties, social gatherings and nights around the fire with friends and family the alcohol usually seems to be flowing fast. There’s a good chance that you’ll be drinking things that are a lot richer in calories too.

Why Is It Bad?

Many traditional Christmas drinks can be very high in calories and have a few of them can be the equivalent of eating an entire meal.

A single Pina Colada can contain 650 calories, equivalent to eating a medium-sized pizza. A glass of Advocaat (eggnog) with lemonade can rack up 400 calories, whereas a White Russian (kahlua, vodka and cream) can hit your for 500 calories.

Those holiday drinks can be deceptively rich!

Alcohol can also inhibit your ability to remain conscientious about your food intake.

How Can You Beat It?

It’s Christmas, so you don’t really want to cut out your drinking. Drink a little more if you want to, but keep those sugar-filled drinks to a minimum.

A shot of whisky, vodka or gin is around 50 calories, add a diet mixer and you’re on to a good thing.

Champagne will also only hit you for around 95 calories, whereas if you go for a glass of prosecco instead you’re down to 80 calories.

That means that a single Pina Colada is the equivalent of 8 glasses of prosecco.

So What’s The Big Wrap Up?

Look, it’s Christmas so it’s a time to enjoy yourself and relax a little. As I’ve said before, I give myself two months of complete rest from training across the course of a year. It’s the best way to keep on making gains in the long run and sticking at it for life.

Don’t beat yourself up if you back off the training for a week or two. It’s ok and it’ll probably mean you’ll come back mentally stronger and determined to break through some PBs.

Watch out for the top 5 food mistakes of Christmas, but don’t get stressed out too much about it.

Oh, and stress is one of the biggest contributors to overeating and weight gain, as it causes your body to produce cortisol, which leads to appetite increases and weight gain.

So chill, take it easy and enjoy the Christmas ride.

Did You Find This Post Useful?

Have you made it through Christmas with your abs intact? Let me know how you got on, I’d love to hear from you.


Christmas dinner photo creative commons license belongs to Jenny.

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2 thoughts on “5 Worst Christmas Food Mistakes And How To Avoid A Flab Explosion

  • Berta

    Another mistake we make is acting like its an eating contest. You should relax, take your time and enjoy the holiday. Also sometimes we eat holiday dinner even when its not a holiday! ….we already eat unhealthy calories on the day and there is no need to eat the leftovers the next day and the next.

    • Andy C Watson Post author

      We sure do, Berta! And all the chocolates and other junk. It’s in the house, so let’s chew through it way into January.
      Although it can feel wasteful, it’s worth throwing out all the junk rather than eating it day after day after day.