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Top 5 tips for surviving the festive season

IMAGINE sitting down at a table and eating this, all on your own:

  • two kilos of ham
  • a kilo of chicken
  • a kilo of turkey
  • 30 pieces of deep fried finger food
  • a large packet of potato chips
  • a large packet of beer nuts
  • six cups of potato salad
  • a dozen mince pies
  • one Christmas pudding
  • almost a litre of custard
  • half a dozen candy canes
  • a box of chocolates
  • 36 beers
  • 5 bottles of wine
  • and a partridge in a pear tree.

Except for the partridge, that is actually what the average Queenslander will consume over the festive season

You'd have to walk from Rockhampton to Brisbane to burn that lot off.

And it's not just the kilojoules - that list would include a kilo of saturated and trans fat

On average, we will attend about six Christmas functions. Some of us will eat a staggering 133,000 extra kilojoules - the equivalent of 45 meals.

2012 Nielsen data indicates about 22 million kilograms of ham will be sold around Australia between October and January. 

There's no point pretending that we won't celebrate or indulge at all, but in partnership with, here are our top five tips on how to survive the festive season.

Top 5 tips for surviving the festive season in one, not excessively large, piece

1. Stop. Move away from the food table

It's too easy to snack if you take up a strategic position by the food. Step back from temptation.

Anyway, it's not a good look to be lurking by the goodies.

Oh, and leave all the food on the table when you go.

2. The portion pincher

Okay: Think of what you can fit (in your mouth, on a plate, in your hands). Now halve it.

If you're still hungry later (and remember, it can take 15 to 20 minutes before the brain realises that the stomach has received enough food) you know the food will still be there. It's Christmas.

Unfortunately, we've become used to unnecessarily large portions: "The standard size of everyday foods and drinks has significantly increased over the years," says nutritionist Penelope Hamilton.

"Packets, plates and bowls are also larger so they encourage bigger portion sizes. People also consider leaving food on a plate to be wasteful so because we're serving more food, we are eating too much at every meal." 

This Christmas, you can be in control of your own portion sizes without missing out on your seasonal treats.

3. Don't feed your nerves

Christmas is not all about relaxing. Work and social functions can sometimes be stressful - and admit it, getting together with the family is not always easy either.

Avoid reaching for food or drink if you're anxious or bored. Find something else to do with your mouth and hands. 

4. Don't arrive hungry

Plan ahead - snack on something healthy before a social event. You won't turn up ravenous and you can party all night.

If you're really hungry, you eat more quickly, which will certainly increase the quantity you consume.

5. The exercise offset

Will you take in excess kilojoules over the festive season? Almost certainly. So fight back with additional activity.

If you've followed the tips above, that won't mean hiking from Rocky to Brisbane, and you'll feel a whole lot better - and you'll be ready to party (sensibly) again for New Year!

That backyard test match on Boxing Day is beginning to look like a good idea.