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05th December 2013

Tis the Season to be Jolly … and Eat in Moderation

Santa Claus slippers on weight scalesAre you planning a festive feast for your staff or service users?  The BNF nutrition blogs for December will look at nutrition over the festive season from the party season and hangovers to the Christmas dinner.

Festive weight gain

For many of us the lead up to Christmas though enjoyable can mean that we experience seasonal weight gain, and there is some evidence to show that, on average, people gain around 5lbs (2kg) in the four-week Christmas period.

Smarter choices

The good news is that we don’t need to give up all the nibbles. Studies show that the greater the choice of food on offer, the more calories we tend to consume.  Sticking to a few healthier alternatives, rather than trying a little of everything, could be a smart weight choice.



Calories kcal

Fat g

Healthier alternative

Calories kcal

Fat g

Mini pastry tartlet



Mini Filo Tartlet



Breaded chicken bite



Marinated Chicken bite



Mini bhaji



Mini satay stick



Bucks Fizz



White wine spritzer



Mince pie



Mini mince pie



Handful of peanuts



Handful of pretzels



Handful of crisps



Handful of twiglets



Sour cream dip



Salsa dip




 If you are going to a party straight from work, have a small snack like a bowl of cereal or a yogurt before you go so you don’t arrive hungry.

The Better Buffet

Another simple but useful tip if you are putting on a buffet is to place healthier options at the start of the table. Researchers at Cornell University have shown that when healthier foods are seen first, people are more likely to select them and less likely to crave high calorie foods that may be further down the buffet line. For example, in their study, 86% selected fruit when it was offered first, but when higher calorie items were offered first this was only 56%. In fact the first three items a person encounters at the buffet comprised two thirds of their total plate regardless whether the items are low or high calorie.

And finally

Christmas is a time to enjoy with friends and family, and food forms an important part of this. But If you are concerned about gaining weight over Christmas, there are steps you can take without ruining your fun.

For more information, see the BNF’s nutritional survival guide:

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Ayela Spiro

Nutrition Scientist, British Nutrition Foundation

Ayela is a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, where her role involves providing expert advice on nutrition and health issues to a number of key audiences including consumers, health professionals, charities, the media and the food industry. At the heart of her work is the communication of nutrition science that promotes understanding of nutrition and health and contributes to the improved wellbeing of all. Read more

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