Staying committed to your health and fitness goals over the Christmas period does not mean depriving yourself completely or saying no to fun. Stay on track this holiday season with these four tips.

1/ Have a good attitude

A lot of people throw in the towel as soon as the silly season rolls in, and seem to think that having some control over what they’re eating and drinking is impossible or too hard. Don’t sabotage your year long efforts. Approach this Christmas with a positive attitude. Yes it is most likely that we will overindulge and consume more food than usual, but that doesn’t mean that a few days has to roll into a whole month. Christmas is also a time that people experience extreme guilt about what they have eaten. It is important to remind yourself that a few meals will not make you unhealthy or gain weight, just like a few meals won’t miraculously make you healthy and lose weight. In fact, studies have shown that food guilt actually makes food taste more desirable and makes people want to consume more.

2/ Don’t throw exercise out the window

Try and start the day with some physical activity. Exercise does not only refer to hitting the gym for a grueling workout, but also includes things like walking, swimming or riding a bike. Meet up with a friend for a walk instead of coffee and cake or drinks. For a lot of people, starting the day with movement puts them in a positive mindset and increases the likelihood of eating well throughout the day. The Christmas period is a common time where people fall off the exercise bandwagon, or delay the idea of getting fit during the festive period because they assume there’s no point starting until the New Year. However given that one of the most common barriers to exercise is lack of time, take advantage of the holiday period and begin or maintain your usual exercise. It not only helps with maintaining weight but also helps to increase energy levels, reduce stress levels and get a better night sleep.

3/ Eat your calories, don’t drink them

Christmas is a time where many Australians to overindulge with alcohol and unfortunately drink their calories. Our bodies are not very good at registering the calories we consume from fluids so go easy on the alcohol and other beverages such as juice, smoothies, flavoured milk, soft-drink and flavoured mineral waters. They contain empty calories with very little nutrition and can quickly add up. One can of soft-drink per day for a week equates to 1200 calories and 280g of sugar which equates to 70 teaspoons! Start your day with a big glass of water and stay well hydrated. One study showed that drinking 500mL of water approximately one hour before meals helped with weight loss .

4/ Load up on salad and veggies

Christmas is often a time of supersized portions, large dinner plates and eating as much as you can possibly fit in. Balance your calorie intake by aiming to fill half of your plate up with salad and non-starchy vegetables which contain a small amount of calories but a lot of fluid, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and which help to keep us full. Aim to eat a variety of colours and textures as they each have their own nutrient profiles. Roast up a big tray of vegetables with olive oil and herbs, add some vegetable kebabs to the BBQ, throw together a yummy salad and add raw vegetables to your platters to balance out all the cheese and deli meat! It is virtually impossible to overeat vegetables and salad with less than 7% of Australians meeting the recommended serves.