The festive season looms and with it those excessive dinners, barbeques and picnics. Here’s how to maintain your weight over Christmas time – and how to travel safely.

Eat in moderation

Dining with family and friends? Here are a few tips to avoid the festive-season bulge:

    • If you have a choice, opt for grilled seafood or chicken (without the skin) instead of red meat.

    • Skip cream- or butter-laden sauces.

    • Eat less bread and opt for starchy vegetables instead (e.g. sweet potato or butternut).

    • Keep your meat and carbohydrate portions small, and fill your plate with salad and/or vegetables instead.

    • Skip the Christmas cake and brandy pudding, and have fresh fruit salad or strawberries for dessert (a dollop of vanilla yoghurt is also much better than ice cream).

    • Steer clear of the cheeses, crisps and crackers – rather snack on nuts, fruits, pretzels and home-made popcorn.

Drink in moderation

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but beware – one gram of alcohol provides 29kJ, so you’re bound to gain weight if you don’t keep a close eye on your alcohol intake. Here’s help:

    • Stick to soda water or sparkling mineral water with a twist of lemon.

    • Dilute dry white wine with iced water or ice.

    • Have a glass of water for every glass of wine or spirits you consume.

    • Opt for light beer and mix spirits with sugar-free cool drinks.

Get some exercise

Being active over the holidays can be challenging. You might not be sticking to your usual routine and you might be in an unfamiliar environment. A few tips:

    • When you’re in the car, look out for nice walking routes. Ask a friend or loved one to join you for a morning or afternoon walk. It’s a great way of catching up.

    • Pack a resistance band. It’s light and easy to travel with, and it’s great for doing strengthening exercises whenever you have a few spare minutes.

    • Go for a swim. Chances are that you’ll be spending the next couple of weeks by the sea or at least close to a swimming pool, lagoon, lake or dam. Start your day by swimming a few lengths. You’ll feel refreshed and invigorated, and you’ll be burning lots of kilojoules.

Safety first

Will you be getting behind the wheel this summer? Here’s how to stay safe on the roads:

    • Get a good night's rest before your road trip.

    • Try not to travel on your own – good company will keep you awake on the road.

    • Schedule regular stops – every 150km or 2 hours (walk around a bit, have something to eat, stretch).

    • Avoid alcohol or medication that may impair your judgement, or make you drowsy.

    • Drink enough fluids and eat – being hungry or dehydrated can also impair your judgement.

    • Recognise signs of fatigue – these include drifting from your lane, hitting rumble strips, repeated yawning, trouble keeping your eyes open, tailgating, or missing road signs.

    • If you’re feeling drowsy, stop and take a break.

Did you know?

In case of emergency, a well-stocked first aid kit could be a lifesaver. Take one along with you this holiday season. Be sure to include: antiseptic ointment, a blanket, a cold pack, disposable gloves, assorted band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, roller gauze, a triangular bandage, hand cleaner, plastic bags, scissors, tweezers, and a small flashlight with extra batteries.

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