4. Suffering Clean Eating Fatigue

You Think: ‘I’m tired of being good. I’m going to feast all through the holidays and work it off at the gym later.’

The Fallout:

“Gorging yourself during the holidays and thrashing yourself at the gym later is a dangerous trap that perpetuates an unhealthy and disconnected relationship between food and your body,” says McMahon. “A feast and famine kind of approach is not helpful to maintaining a healthy weight.” Losing weight is also a trickier prospect than many people realise so you may find that your holiday weight does not all come off, even if you’re working out hard and eating clean.

Christmas Comeback:

» Stick to your usual eating pattern: “If you’re eating out, choose the grilled fish and vegies instead of the creamy pasta," says Gawthorne. Meanwhile, skip foods you would never normally have, such as soft drinks, bread rolls at dinner, gravy and sour cream on your potatoes.”

Eating at a friend’s house? Offer to bring a huge salad so that you can serve a big plate of that and eat less of the more kilojoule-laden healthy fare.

» Work out as usual: Abandoning your exercise routine at the very time of year that you normally eat more doesn’t make any sense. “Exercise makes every cell more sensitive to insulin, so glucose enters your cells more easily,” says Christine Armarego, exercise physiologist from Sydney’s Glucose Club. “This means your pancreas doesn’t need to send out as much insulin to manage your blood glucose levels.” In turn this helps to reduce weight gain over the festive season.

» Remember – this effect is dose-dependent. “Twenty-four hours after you work out, your insulin sensitivity peaks,” Armarego explains. “Within 48 hours it has returned to what it was. That’s why daily exercise is best to keep insulin sensitivity at its highest. If you can’t manage that, try not to let more than 48 hours pass between exercise sessions.”

By contrast, if you’re a couch potato all holidays, “Higher glucose levels and insulin can lead to increased fatigue and make it harder for your body to access fats stores to burn for energy,” Armarego says.

So keep up some kind of exercise all through Christmas. And if at all possible, exercise on Christmas day – either by engaging in a workout after the present opening, or by enjoying a long family walk over lunch.