Getting back on track after Christmas

You wouldn't normally associate Christmas time with a diet, so it's not a shock that many people give up trying to lose weight at this time of year.

Unfortunately, that also means many of the pounds people have worked so hard to lose are piled back on again over the holiday period.

If this sounds depressingly familiar, don't despair. These tips might help you to get your eating patterns back on track:

Have the right number of calories each day

The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day and the average woman around 2,000. Most of us eat more than we should and the less active we are, the fewer calories we need. If you sit most of the day, your calorie needs will be lower. Cut your calories, stick to regular mealtimes and snack healthily in between.

Include starchy foods

Starchy, unrefined carbohydrate foods should form the bulk of your diet. Try to include good sources of fibre such as wholemeal or wholegrain bread, potatoes, high-fibre cereals, wholemeal pasta and brown rice.. Fibre can make you feel fuller for longer, which can cut back how much you snack.

Watch your sugars and fats

Now you've finished all of those left-overs, you might find it helpful to write out a shopping list of healthy food you can stick to. You should look to cut back on foods high in saturated fats such as fatty meats, hard cheese, biscuits and cakes as well as sugary snacks. It's also an idea to cut back on alcohol, which can add up to a lot of calories.

Eat more fruit and veg and consume more water

Five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can help decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers, and the additional fibre can help with your energy levels and your digestive system.

You get about 20% of your daily fluid intake from food, but it's also recommended that women drink about 1.6 litres a day and men about two litres a day of non-alcoholic fluid. Water, sugar-free soft drinks, tea and coffee all count towards your daily fluid intake. If you're pregnant, you should avoid more than 200 mg of caffeine (4 cups of brewed coffee or 4 cups of tea) but otherwise, up to 450 mg a day of caffeine is fine. Keeping well hydrated may well help you feel more awake and have more energy, with fewer headaches and a lower chance of constipation.

Take more exercise

Being more physically active on a regular basis will help you lose weight, and it'll also help you to keep it off.

Build activity into your daily life by walking more each day. It's quite possible to burn several hundred extra calories per day just from walking, especially if you take the stairs rather than the lift, increase your pace and jog a few steps along the way. Try using a pedometer to measure how far you walk and then try to increase the distance a little each day or week.


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