Avoid the Christmas kilo creep

Write Way to Health healthy holidaysWith the festive party season in full swing and holidays just around the corner, the nation’s peak nutrition body is urging Australians to avoid the kilo creep by making wise food and drink choices.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Lauren McGuckin said: ‘Christmas is just one day a year, but celebrations often stretch over a month or longer. So weight wise, this is a difficult time of year for many Australians.’

Ms McGuckin said recent research has shown that weight gain over the festive season is a major contributor to excess yearly weight gain, especially for people who are already carrying more weight than they would like1.

She said another study involving 82 people showed a significant increase in body fat percentage and total fat mass over the festive season2.

‘Most Australians would agree that Christmas is not the best time to be trying to shed excess kilos. The goal over the festive season should instead be around keeping weight stable by making smart food and drink choices.

‘Even an extra 600 kilojoules a day – the amount in a small slice of Christmas cake or a can of full-strength beer – can add up over time and result in a couple of extra kilos come January. Those extra kilos are so much harder to get off than they are to put on, so the trick is to avoid gaining weight in the first place,’ said Ms McGuckin, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Some tips to help keep weight gain at bay over the festive season include:

  • Eat lighter. Snack on seasonal fruit (such as cherries and watermelon), a small handful of nuts, or low-fat crackers and a salsa dip. Eating a handful of cherries instead of a handful of lollies will save you around 330kJ and 16g of added sugar.
  • Plan plan plan. Take a healthy platter to parties or functions. Include lots of bright, colourful vegetable sticks such as carrot, red and green capsicum, green beans and snow peas. Serve with an avocado dip, beetroot dip or yoghurt-based dip.
  • Drink smarter. If you drink, aim for two glasses of low joule non-alcoholic drinks to every alcoholic drink. Try soda with a squeeze of lime or lemon, or a jug of cold water with cucumber or strawberries and lots of ice for a refreshing change. If you swap a glass of sparkling wine for sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon you will save 470kJ.
  • Eat mindfully. Try to eat slowly, savour every mouthful and enjoy your food over the festive period. You don’t need to eat everything on offer – be selective and enjoy a small amount. Stop eating once you are comfortably full.
  • Move more. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, wash the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, get off the bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way, ride your bike to the local shops instead of taking the car.
  • Get the right support. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is your diet coach – providing you with individual, expert advice to help you achieve your goals. Visit the ‘Find an APD’ section of the Dietitians Association of Australia website at www.daa.asn.au to find an APD in your area.

1. Schoeller DA, 2014, ‘The effect of holiday weight gain on body weight’, Physiology & Behavior, Vol. 134, pp. 66-9
2. Hull HR, Hester CN & Fields DA, 2006, ‘The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students’, Nutrition & Metabolism, Vol. 3, No. 44. Accessed 28 November 2014. Available from: www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/3/1/44

Write Way to Health healthy holidayBased upon a press release from the Dietitians Association of Australia, 2/12/14

Further information

Dietitians Association of Australia


What’s in season – summer


“A fruit bowl” by Laura Bentley (8 years) 2013

Summer has arrived! With the warmer weather comes all the delicious summer fruits and veggies.

When we think of summer in Australia, we think of picnics at the beach or in the park, barbeques and lots of delicious salads. Don’t forget that many of these plant foods make great accompaniments to your Christmas table.

Over the next few months, watch out for these at your local fruit shop or produce store:


Apricots Limes Pears
Bananas Mangoes Pineapple
Blackberries Melon Plums
Blueberries Nectarines Raspberries
Cherries Oranges Strawberries
Figs Passionfruit Watermelon
Grapes Peaches


Asian greens Eggplant Potatoes
Asparagus Garlic Radishes
Capsicum Green Beans Tomatoes
Celery Green Shallots Watercress
Corn Lettuce Zucchini
Brussels sprouts Onions
Cucumbers Peas

“A vegetable garden” by Laura Bentley (8 years), 2013

Summer is the perfect time to increase your intake of fruits and veggies. With salads a staple for many Aussies, there are so many different options. Why not throw in a handful of raspberries or blueberries for extra colour and flavour? Or perhaps aim to include fruits and veggies of different colours to make a rainbow salad. Other fruits that work well in salads include stone fruit and pears.

When it comes to dessert, why not make fruit the feature? Chargrilled peaches with a dollop of ice-cream, or even a mixed berry smoothie to help you stay cool. And if you are having the traditional Aussie pavlova, you can’t go past lots of yummy fruit on top.

Remember, the more colour you include in your diet, the higher nutritional benefit to you.

In summer, fruits and veggies can spoil in the heat, so always store them in a cool place, and even consider stocking up every few days. Buying from your local fruit shop or farmer’s market is a great way to ensure you enjoy the freshest produce.

Top tips for hot days

dog and iceSummer in Australia, is usually greeted with enthusiasm — until the temperatures get too hot.

When the mercury rises and temperatures soar, so too does the risk of heat-related illnesses.

The two major ones to look out for are:

  • Heat exhaustion —signs to watch for include sweating, a pale complexion, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps and muscle weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and/or fainting. If left untreated, it can quickly escalate into heat stroke.
  • Heat stroke —is a life-threatening emergency and requires urgent medical attention. The symptoms may appear the same as for heat exhaustion, but the skin may not sweat. Usually,  the person’s mental condition worsens and they may even collapse and become unconscious. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, you must call an ambulance immediately. This condition is potentially fatal.

While you can’t do anything about the temperature outside, there are many things you can do to stay safe. Here are our DOs and DON’Ts for a healthy, cool summer.


  • Stay hydrated and make water your choice of beverage.
  • Continue to eat healthily, focusing on lighter foods such as fruit, salads and lean meats.
  • Offer young children and babies clear fluids throughout the day. Icy poles or chopped, frozen fruit can also be given.
  • Remember your pets and make sure they have plenty of water and a shady, cool spot.
  • Stay cool by having cooler showers or baths, or simply soaking your feet in cool water.
  • Make use of air-conditioners, fans and evaporative coolers, but do so responsibly. During a heatwave, the extra power used by running cooling devices can lead to power shortages.
  • Avoid going outside unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep the house cool by shutting all windows, doors and closing curtains and blinds.
  • Wear cool and loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabric like cotton.
  • Take care outdoors by wear a hat, use sunscreen and cover up, if you have to be outside.


  • Take signs of heat exhaustion lightly. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Drink alcohol as it will dehydrate you further.
  • Use the oven, as that will add to the heat of the house. Instead, focus on meals that require no or minimal cooking.
  • Exercise strenuously or during the peak of the heat. If you like to exercise, schedule it for early morning before it begins to heat up. Ensure you drink extra water to compensate for any sweat lost.
  • Spend long periods of time outdoors.
  • Leave anybody or any animal in the car.
  • Leave elderly people, pregnant women or people with compromised health alone on hot days.

While very few of us enjoy those scorching days, it is possible to get through them without risking our health.