Come January many of our waistbands may be digging in that little bit more due to seasonal over-indulgence.

However, there are tiny tweaks we can make to our celebrations to keep most of those extra pounds at bay and make returning to normality in 2019 easier.

Portion sizes

For many, the holiday season brings with it lashings of gravy, piles of stuffing, slices of pie and second and third helpings.

It can be hard to keep to your usual eating habits when temptation is all around, and when menus change to more calorific traditional holiday fare.

Try simple methods such as restricting your meals to one plate. You will still enjoy the seasonal dishes but your portion size will be more reasonable.

Watching your portions applies for both full meals and appetizers. Don’t stand next to the appetizer table. Instead, fill one small plate and go and work the room – you will find it harder to eat while you are talking to other partygoers.

Slow it down

Another thing to try is slowing down your eating. Put down your cutlery between mouthfuls, and do not be scared to pause your eating to engage in a conversation over the dinner table. It can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to receive all the signals that you are full, so give your body some time to realize this before gorging on a second helping.

Modify meals

Some holiday favorites can be modified to bring down the calorie or fat content of the meal, or a similar yet healthier option can be substituted instead. Choose turkey breast instead of leg and thigh and remove the skin to take the calories down a notch. Choose nut or fruit-based stuffing instead of sausage and eat lots of the vegetables on offer. Use semi-skimmed milk instead of full fat or cream in your bread sauce. Small changes can add up.

Don’t save up calories

Skipping meals in order to accrue more usable calories for a big meal is not advised as you will likely end up eating more calories overall.

If you do overindulge, return to normal eating the following day and do not beat yourself up, it’s Christmas after all!

Watch those liquids

It’s not just food that can widen waistlines; alcohol and sugary, fizzy drinks can add calories to our diets without us realizing. These calories are also usually “empty,” with no nutritional benefits.

Try to stick to lower calorie options such as light beer and avoid cocktails with added syrup.

Alcohol can pack a punch in the calorie department. Try to stick to lower calorie options such as white wine spritzers, light beer or vodka soda, and nix too many egg nogs as that creaminess does not come calorie free.

Add non-alcoholic options into your drink rotations. Alternate between booze and water to keep calories (and tipsiness) down. Drinking too much can also lower our inhibitions and mean we eat more.

When it comes to water – stay hydrated. We can sometimes confuse thirst for hunger leading us to eat more, so drink water throughout the day. Your body will thank you.

Keep moving

Try to fit in a workout, even if it’s just 20 minutes, before a holiday meal – you know it’s unlikely you will do it after!

Take advantage of holiday fun runs. There are quite a few to choose from, including Camana Bay’s annual Santa Fun Run, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre Jingle Bell Run, and Dashing Thru the Sand on Boxing Day. Christmas breezes also make these runs more enjoyable than their summer counterparts.

Remember – anything is better than nothing. Park a bit further away from the store you are shopping at, take the stairs in the office instead of the elevator, or do an extra brisk lap around the supermarket while picking up the turkey.

Allow yourself some Christmas cheer

Don’t take all of the fun out of Christmas by being too restricted. Cut yourself some slack over the festive seasons, and if you have been on a mission to lose weight, changing this aim to maintaining your weight over Christmas may be more realistic.

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