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Maintaining a sense of balance – weight management and times of celebration

Times of celebration - whether it is the holiday season, a wedding or even a birthday - are times for fun and good cheer. But they can also be when people who are taking steps to manage their weight may find it more difficult to stick to their plan.

This is hardly surprising, when there is often a focus on food and drink and the very natural desire to celebrate with friends and family.

5 min. read
Woman speaking to doctor

The image is a model

Don’t worry – there is no need to miss out on the festive fun. Remember that even if you do gain weight, it does not have to be the end of your weight management journey. In this article, we explore the importance of achievable and sustainable weight loss goals, and offer tips for those seeking a bit more support.

Why can times of celebration present particular challenges for weight management?

Any events that interfere with normal life and disrupt routine can make it more difficult to stick to a weight management program. This includes the festive period, vacations or major life celebrations, all of which are associated with increased socialising and an emphasis on eating and drinking.

These times can be joyful but can also bring additional stresses. Cooking for and hosting friends and family can be tiring, as can defusing family tensions or dealing with excited children! Add in late nights and it is little wonder that energy levels dip. Sleep deprivation can also lead to a plateau in weight loss, or weight gain – but more on this later!

Weight management should be realistic and achievable. You may have periods where your weight loss slows down, and it is important to not feel shame or guilt for that. If you are feeling nervous about the impact to your weight management programme, we have shared some suggestions below.

Festive food and drink

If you are hosting, plan menus in advance. Balance indulgent dishes with lighter options - many dishes can be adapted to offer a less calorie-dense alternative and nobody will know the difference!

Set yourself achievable and realistic goals – this may look like allowing yourself some treats and really focus on savoring each mouthful – this is known as ‘mindful indulgence’.

Alcohol is high in calories and can weaken your resolve. If you like a tipple, alternate alcoholic drinks with soft options, or choose ‘mocktails’ or low-alcohol products.

You might find it helpful to ask for help from your family and friends. Let your loved ones know that you want to stick to your regime as far as possible and ask them to support you.

Self-care – looking after your own needs

Sticking to a weight management programme is not just about food – you also need to pay attention to your well-being.

It is important to try and get sufficient sleep – although that’s easier said than done during a celebratory period! You are more likely to snack when you are feeling tired or stressed. If possible, take time out during the day to gather your thoughts. Find a quiet place and try and ‘switch off’ for a few minutes or relax in a warm bath.

If you are feeling stressed, try breathing exercises or practice mindfulness (focusing your attention on the moment) – there are many different apps that show you how to perform these techniques.

Stay as active as possible. Try to get out in the fresh air if possible – you may want to encourage your friends and family to join you for walks!

If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to cope, talk to your doctor about seeking specialist support.

What if I gain weight during the holiday period?

Despite your best efforts, you may find it hard to follow your weight management plan during a special occasion. This is perfectly normal so don’t give yourself a hard time. The holiday season is probably the most difficult time of the year to stick to the rules!

Don’t be tempted to give up – simply return to your healthy habits as soon as possible and you will soon be back on track. Remind yourself of your specific goals and why you set them and re-focus on your health.

Moving forward

To summarise, all celebrations should be enjoyed and is not a time to be hard on yourself – it’s OK to relax the rules! If you’re keen to stick to your weight management plan, the tips outlined in this article can help to minimise the amount of weight gain. If you are struggling to cope or feel that you need extra support, contact a healthcare professional or a specialist support group.

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