IN the lead up to Christmas, there are mince pies, pints and chocolates a plenty.

It can feel impossible to get away from the inevitable weight gain that comes with festive fun.

But if you want to keep your weight stable – or even push yourself to lose weight – you don’t need to restrict yourself.

For people who are feeling lazy, a little change here and there goes a long way.

And by giving yourself a break, you can go hard in the New Year once you feel rested and motivated.

Check out these tips to effortlessly manage your waistline:

Sleep more

We get it – it’s hard to get those essential hours during the party season.

But making sure to get hit the sack early when you can – and call it a night at a decent time when socialising – could benefit your health.

Researchers found those who get between seven and nine hours most nights have fewer hunger pangs.

Nutrition expert Dr Wendy Hall, from Kings College London, said: “If people are less tired, they may be less inclined to choose sweet, energy dense foods. They also have less opportunity for late-night snacking.”

Eat more fibre

You don’t have to overhaul your diet to lose weight. 

Just adding in some more fibre from foods like fruit and veg, oats, barley, rye, pulses, brown rice and lentils, could make a big difference.

The NHS says: “There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre (commonly referred to as roughage) is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

“Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.”

Go for a walk

Can’t face the gym when your schedule is jam-packed? Sometimes motivation can be in short supply during busy periods.

If your usual gym sessions feel out of reach, stick to long walks instead.

It still counts towards exercise goals – 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week, according to the NHS, in addition to two strength based workouts.

A brisk walk can “build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier”, he health service says.

Shift your eating window

We’ve all heard of intermittent fasting. The most popular version is the 16:8 diet, which is when you only eat within an eight hour window of the day while fasting for 16.

Studies suggest that fasting doesn’t necessarily help you lose more weight. However, it may be more simple than cutting down the portion sizes of every meal, and therefore easier to stick to. 

One review published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, which analysed 25 studies, found people who used fasting diets didn’t lose more weight over an eight week period compared to those who just restricted their calories.

However, they kept off their seven per cent weight loss for a year. 

Ask for a tall glass

If you’re heading out for Christmas drinks, ask the bartender for your beverage in a tall glass.

A 2005 study in The BMJ suggested that the shape of the glass influences the size of the pour when bartenders make alcoholic drinks.

Bartenders tend to pour 28 per cent more alcohol into wide "rocks" glasses than they do when mixing drinks in tall "highball" glasses when attempting to measure one "shot".

To keep your intake moderate during Christmas, stick to a tall glass and even better, learn about the drinks that are lower in calories.

Swap to green tea

For a healthier brew, you just need to switch from your regular cuppa to green tea.

The drink, preferred most by China, is one of the healthiest in the world. 

And it may have weight loss benefits, a review by Canadian researchers found.

People in studies who have drunk green tea over 12 weeks have lost between 0.2 to 3.5kg more than those who don’t.

After reviewing all the evidence, researchers said the extra weight loss was “not significant”.  

However, green tea contains a number of compounds like caffeine and EGCG, which can have powerful effects on metabolism, Healthline reports, making it easier to burn calories over the day. 

Treat yourself

Before diving into a diet at the most difficult time of the year, consider that it is, in fact, the best time to let go a little.

Elizabeth Huggins, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Hilton Head Health, told Eat This Not That: "If your health-related goals include weight loss, I recommend parking your weight loss expectations during a time of year that is historically tough on most of us for sticking to the original plan. 

“Instead, strive for weight maintenance."

Drink enough water

Have you ever heard someone say you’re probably not hungry, but thirsty

Chances are, if you fail to drink enough water, they are correct.

Dehydration can make you feel tired, groggy and lacking consternation – all things that may drive you to eat more food. 

Leading dietitian Susie Burrell writes in her blog: "The simple act of starting each day with 300-500ml of water is one of the easiest daily rituals you can adopt.

"Not only to rehydrate after the night's rest but to help get the digestive system moving.

"Ice cold water, in particular, has been shown to increase metabolic rate slightly after consumption.”

Have a balanced breakfast

It doesn’t require too much effort to make a good breakfast, especially if you get into the habit of making it in advance.

Experts say the best breakfasts are those which are balanced and incorporate a bit of protein, fat, and carbs.

These will keep you fuller and satisfied for longer.

Susie says: "Good options at breakfast time include vegetables or sliced fruit served with your eggs; high protein, lower carb breads that are generally made with fibre rich wholegrains and seeds and a serve of bran, oats or fresh fruit which you can add to smoothies or Greek yogurt."

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