You DON'T need to weigh yourself every day over Christmas – have your treats without feeling guilty

More to point, why would you want to know that?

Every year, the media is full of advice on how to stay slim over the festive season, with experts explaining how many burpees it takes to burn off a glass of eggnog and how many minutes you'd have to jog to work off a single Ferrero Roche (it's 12 minutes!).

Does that really do anyone any good? No, not really.

A new study from the universities of Birmingham and Loughborough have just found that weighing yourself over Christmas can stop us from putting on weight over the festive season.

It found that when given weightloss tips and told to weigh themselves over Christmas, people lost more weight.

And doubtless, that's true.

If you were being told to look at how much weighed every single day, you might be less tempted to enjoy an extra truffle after dinner or have many – if any – roast potatoes.

But what kind of Christmas would that be?

There is something to be said for watching what you eat in the run-up to the holidays.

On Christmas Day alone, the average person eats around 6,000 calories – three times the recommended daily allowance.

Do that on the regular throughout December and you could head for trouble.

In general, adults put on 1kg a year – much of which is accumulated towards the end of the year which is then not lost in the new year. We simply start again on this journey towards gorging and dieting.

And that's possibly the least healthy way to go about things.

"The scales don't dictate how healthy you are – how can one number accurately reflect how you feel every day?" asks leading Harley Street nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert.

"That little number shouldn't define who you are. It can ruin an entire day and people live their lives like that – that's what encourages dangerous relationships.

"Health should be defined how well you sleep, your mood, energy, the nourishing things you feed yourself."

Rhiannon says that the whole idea of telling people how much exercise they need to do to burn off certain Christmas foods is incredibly unhealthy in itself.

"Telling people that they have to exercise for 21 minutes if they want to eat a mince pie will make them panic that they have to run a marathon everytime they have a treat.

"It's so inaccurate. Every day we have different energy requirements – no one number will ever be reflective of that."

While balance and weight maintenance might be important in general (accumulate too much belly fat, for example, and you run the risk of diabetes, heart problems and more), Christmas is a very finite moment in time that shouldn't be wasted worrying.

"It's the time of the year where the components of enjoyment and social interaction have been lost," Rhiannon says.

"It's not normal. If you have moderation – you enjoy certain things when you want to, you're less likely to binge on them later."

"The bottom line really is that the number on the scales will never be accurate. Thousands of people have a daily routine of looking at their scales and for many, it's problematic."

And, of course, the whole idea of running off a certain food or jumping for Yorkshire puds is totally false anyway.

We all have a baseline of calories depending on our height, age and activity level – which for most people will be well over 1,000kcals a day. Your brain alone needs around 600kcals to function, and again, that amount changes according to how much you think and do.

It's way too simple to say you need to do X number of pushups to eat Y number of sweets. And it's totally unrealistic to get people to do this over Christmas – the one time of the year we should be relaxing and enjoying spending time with our loved ones.

Food plays such a huge role. Enjoy it for what it is, but just don't go overboard. You don't have to put yourself into a cheese coma just because it's December.

Remember too that the study we mentioned earlier also included giving people healthy lifestyle tips, which Rhiannon says are sensible and balanced.

Healthy tips for eating over Christmas

According to the experts from the University of Birmingham, these were the tips given to the successful slimmers over the festive season:

1. Try to eat roughly the same time each day, whether this is two or five times a day.

2. Chose reduced fat foods (e.g. dairy foods, spreads, salad dressings) where you can. Use high fat food sparingly (e.g. butter and oils) if at all.

3. Walk 10,000 steps each day (equivalent to 60-90 minutes moderate activity).

4. If you snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low calorie yogurts instead of chocolate or crisps.

5. Be careful about food claims on labels. Check the fat and sugar on labels when shopping and preparing food.

6. Do not heap food on your plate, except vegetables. Think twice before having second helpings.

7. Break up your sitting time. Stand up for ten minutes of every hour.

8. Think about your drinks. Choose water or sugar free squashes. Unsweetened fruit juice contains natural sugar so limit to one glass a day (200ml). Alcohol is high in calories so limit to one unit per day for women and two for men. Try diluting drinks with water, soda or low calorie mixers.

9. Slow down. Do not eat on the go or while watching TV. Eat at a table if possible.

10. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (400g in total).

Source: University of Birmingham

Slowing down the speed at which you eat, getting at least five portions of fruit and veg a day and becoming more active are obvious tips – but they're the ones which genuinely work.

And more crucially, they are tips that you can implement over Christmas and still enjoy the day.

If you slow down and make sure that your plate is piled high with sprouts, peas, broccoli, then you might not overeat on the stuffing and pigs in blankets.

Go for a walk in between main and pudding, and that'll help with digestion as well as overall energy burn.

But for the love of everyone's sanity, let's stop talking about the calories content and exercise equivelent of our favourite Christmas foods!

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