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Why you could consume an extra 30,000 calories from now up until Christmas

More than five million of us admit to caring less about our health and wellbeing as soon as the festive season sets in, according to a new survey

By Valerie Edwards

Published 04/12/2015

A woman eating chocolate
A woman eating chocolate
Monty Bojangles Seasonal Spiced Hot Chocolate
Chocolate treats
Christmas treats

If you've ever wondered how you put on a few extra pounds by the new year, it could be because you may have consumed an extra 30,000 calories during the festive season, according to a new survey.

Tilda Basmati Rice interviewed 1,000 people in a new survey that reveals how we say ‘go on then’ and commence tucking in Christmas treats at the office and home.

From now until Christmas most of us will give up the healthy eating regime and start to devour mince pies, chocolates, and crisps, with alcoholic liqueurs and hot chocolates.

The ramifications of over-eating and the addictive quality of sugar can mean that returning to healthy eating in January will be that much harder, with research suggesting that it can take as little as 21 days to form a habit.

Based on the findings, 16-29-year-olds are the 'biggest indulgers' and could consume up to an extra 30,000 calories from now up until Christmas Day.

More than five million people admit to caring less about their health and wellbeing as soon as the festive season sets in, allowing themselves treats at least once a day.

Men are less likely to ‘treat themselves’ than women, with 28% of males saying they never consume festive treats, as opposed to 23% of women.

So why do we give into this seasonal festive feasting?

Food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson, from Secret Eaters, said: “Sugar very quickly becomes our faithful friend when it’s cold outside and we’re under the stress of entertaining and hosting family and loved ones."

Comfort eating is the most common reason for us (28%) to indulge in the run up to festivities, being that eating helps us feel better. The cold weather and with it being dark outside (24%) and a sense of reward (21%) were also cited as reasons why we tend to eat more at Christmas time.

The study, conducted by Tilda Basmati Rice and in association with dietitian, Dr Sarah Schenker and Dr Fergusson, is the beginning of a new health campaign that aims to encourage us to be mindful of festive temptations, the reasons why we succumb at this time of year and how to manage our moods to ensure good health and happiness over the holiday season.

Camilla Sheeley of Tilda Basmati said: “A little festive indulgence is part and parcel with celebrations, but making some healthy feel good choices over the festive break too can really contribute to us feeling happy and healthy in the longer term.”

Beat the temptation this festive season with Dr Fergusson's top tips:

  • Don’t ‘treat yourself’ with food. Try to ‘treat’ yourself in other ways –  a new party outfit or a trip to the hairdressers will help you embrace the party mood in different ways
  • Get plenty of natural light. As the dark nights draw in, our mood can drop, leading us to nibble more to make us feel better. To boost your mood, try to get as much natural daylight as possible - make sure you leave your desk and go for a brisk walk at lunchtime!
  • Be mindful of sugary temptations. There are lots more tempting treats around during the festive period but these can lead you on a sugar rollercoaster with highs and lows that can affect your mood. Be mindful and choose natural sugars where possible
  • Fill your tummy during mealtimes. Fill yourself with plenty of wholefoods such as quinoa or Basmati rice, especially before heading out to festive parties, so you don’t feel too tempted to overindulge
  • Snack on foods such aspumpkin seeds or Brazil nuts. Give your body the building blocks to make the feel-good mood booster serotonin, which will help you keep your cool, at what can often be a stressful time of year

Dr Schenker’s top 5 nutrition tips for the holidays:

  • Don’t starve yourself. Don’t starve yourself all day only to binge on festive treats later. By choosing small balanced meals through the day, you will find that your appetite is more stable, allowing you to enjoy one or two small treats without craving more
  • Choose wholegrains. Choose wholegrains such as brown basmati rice and quinoa over refined processed foods to help keep blood sugar levels more even and prevent hunger pangs between meals
  • Make sure your meals are balanced. Incorporate adequate amounts of protein rich foods to your meals such as fish, pulses and yoghurt. Protein has a high satiety value helping too keep you feeling fuller for longer
  • Control sugar cravings by choosing snacks with a low GI. (glycaemic index) Foods such as mixed nuts, dried apricots, avocado and hummus with vegetable sticks are great for snacking on
  • Keep well hydrated. Keep hydrated by sipping small amounts of water regularly throughout the day. It is easy to mistake the feeling of mild thirst with hunger, so always have a drink before you start munching, to see if the feeling passes

10 most common treats that signify the start of the festive over-indulgence

1.    Mince pies (50%)

2.    Festive chocolates (41%)

3.    Crisps (30%)

4.    Shortbread (27%)

5.    Biscuits (26%)

6.    Chocolate yule log (24%)

7.    Baileys (23%)

8.    Beer (23%)

9.    Chocolate from the advent calendar (21%)

10.  Alcoholic liqueur (18%)

10 festive treats that tempt women

1.    Mince pies (48%)

2.    Festive chocolates (43%)

3.    Shortbread (32%)

4.    Chocolate yule log (29%)

5.    Baileys (29%)

6.    Biscuits (28%)

7.    Crisps (27%)

8.    Chocolate from the advent calendar (21%)

9.    Chocolate coins (19%)

10.  Alcoholic liqueur (19%)

10 festive treats that tempt men

1.    Mince pies (51%)

2.    Festive chocolates (40%)

3.    Beer (37%)

4.    Crisps (25%)

5.    Biscuits (21%)

6.    Shortbread (21%)

7.    Chocolate from the advent calendar (19%)

8.    Chocolate yule log (18%)

9.    Stollen (17%)

10.  Baileys (17%)

Top reasons we tend to indulge in the run up to Christmas

1.    It helps me to feel better 28%)

2.    It’s dark and cold outside (24%)

3.    I’m with friends and family and it is sociable (22%)

4.    Because I deserve it (21%)

5.    Because I’ve worked really hard this year (15%)

6.    Because I’m feeling a bit down (12%)

7.    It’s a stressful time of year (11%)

8.    In winter I don’t  care so much about my body and my appearance (9%)

Online Editors

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