Staying on track to avoid weight gain over Christmas

Date Published

1st December 2020




The odd mince pie here, a Quality Street or four there – it may feel like a session of calorie dodgems if you’re trying to watch your weight and stay healthy this winter.

However, there is one easy step you can take to help you stay on track, and that’s to cut down on how much alcohol you drink.

The good news is that taking time to enjoy festive meals and other treats this Christmas does not have to come at the expense of our health. Here’s what you need to know:

Watch out for ‘empty’ calories

Unlike sprouts or turkey, the calories from alcohol are often described as 'empty calories', meaning they have little nutritional value. What’s more, different alcoholic drinks have different calorie content. To give you an idea, a pint of lager contains about the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza or a large glass of wine the same as a bowl of ice cream. This means you can end up consuming more calories than you realise, which won’t help you maintain a healthy weight. By choosing smaller glasses and drinking plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks, you can help yourself consume less alcohol overall. And you could try low alcohol or alcohol-free drinks, some of which contain fewer calories as well as less alcohol.

Drinking makes being physically activity harder

The month of December all too often goes hand-in-hand with the consumption of more calories than usual, as well as spending more time sitting around tables or the TV. Drinking heavily before you try to exercise may interfere with your judgment and ability to exercise safely, while an attempt to exercise the morning after drinking heavily can be thwarted as your hangover can make you feel tired, nauseous and lacking in energy or motivation.

Remember that exercise is great for your mental health as well as your physical health, so to get the most from being physically active, make sure you have a drink-free day before any exercise.

Remember our festive tips
  • Stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines: if you choose to drink, always drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week (that's typically 6 pints of beer or 6 medium glasses of wine)

  • Plan at least three drink-free days every week. Think about them in advance and plan what you will do instead – maybe a healthy after-dinner walk, festive online quiz, or a family board games night

  • Switch to a low alcohol or alcohol-free drink –choose those that have fewer calories

  • Don’t let alcohol get in the way of being physically active - it’s great for your mental health as well as your physical health and really important after indulgent festive meals

  • Download our free app – it can help you track both the units and calories in your drinks