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It is SO easy for holiday weight gain to happen. So it’s no surprise that evidence shows keeping basic lifestyle habits on track during the holidays is likely to prevent excessive weight gain.

One-off indulgences do not cause weight gain; weight gain is caused by gradual, sustained increases in kilojoule intake – a large glass of wine here, an extra biscuit there and so forth. Here’s a sample of some of the most common party-season habits that cause weight gain so you can act now to avoid the extra kilos that seem to appear mid-January:

Going to parties hungry

A common mistake is overindulging on chips and dips while waiting for the “real” food to arrive. Avoid overeating at parties by ensuring you do not arrive starving. Have a filling snack 60 to 90 minutes before you go, such as an apple and a handful of nuts or one of your 5.4 meals.

Overindulging too early in the season

Try to differentiate “special” occasions from run-of-the-mill drinks with acquaintances. This way you can indulge when there is a truly special occasion but keep on track with good habits for the weeks beforehand.

Ditching the exercise

Make it a priority to maintain gym commitments, regular walks and go to the beach or park to compensate for the extra food you’ll be eating.

Overindulging in alcohol

The festive season should not be seen as an excuse to forget your personal limits with alcohol. Try to have two alcohol-free days each week, drink plenty of water and avoid high-kilojoule mixers such as juice, soft drink and flavoured drinks.

Letting Christmas run until January

Get back on track with your usual diet and exercise habits by January 2 or, before you know it, February will be here and the extra Christmas weight will be with you for the rest of the year.

Developing an “all or nothing” attitude to dieting

Rather than mentally writing off the next four weeks in terms of your food intake and activity patterns, change your thinking. Enjoy good-quality, tasty treats in controlled amounts, but balance them with your nutritious 5.4 meals. Look at the time off over this period as an excuse to move your body more and you will be well on your way to a fitter and healthier 2017.