How many calories is too much on Christmas Day?

The average Brit eats 6,000 calories on Christmas day [Photo: Getty]

Almost as soon as we wake on Christmas Day, we start consuming calories.

With smoked salmon or bacon sarnies for breakfast, countless mince pies throughout the day and a mega Christmas dinner, the average person starts eating at 10am and doesn’t stop till midnight.

But how much do we actually eat over the Christmas period? And how much is too much?

A 2016 study revealed that the average Brit eats almost 6,000 calories on Christmas Day. That’s three times the daily calorie limit of women.

If you want to know just how much food that is, read this: it’s the equivalent of 118 chicken nuggets, 32 slices of pizza or 131 Jaffa Cakes.

To burn all of that off, you would need to run two entire marathons, cycle for 109 miles or swim for 13 hours.

However, the same study found that 70% of us couldn’t care less how much we eat on Christmas Day with most of us viewing is as the one day of the year to truly indulge.

Dietitians say that a bit of overeating won’t do you any lasting harm [Photo: Getty]

“Healthy eating at Christmas is all about balancing pleasure and moderation. And don’t forget that being active will help you work off any extra calories consumed,” registered dietitian Helen Bond tells Yahoo Style UK.

Specialist dietitian Kirsten Crothers has some good words for all of us Christmas overeaters. “Eating more calories than needed over just a short period of time will have no affect at all,” she says. “But, eating around 500 calories extra per day, over a week would add on an extra 1-2 lbs.”

However, she says that the 2500 calorie limit for men and 2000 limit for women changes over the festive period. “We tend to exercise less and so our calorie needs are reduced further.”

If you feel like you’ve eaten way way too much and are regretting it, don’t worry too much, says Crothers, for “eating too much in the short term has little negative impact on the health in the long term.”

“Some of the weight gained at Christmas is just water weight as we tend to over indulge in sugar and carbohydrates which are stored alongside water in the body. Often people find they can lose a lot of weight when they first go back to their usual healthy eating, but this then slows down. This is because a lot of that initial weight loss is fluid.”

But do you really need that extra mince pie? [Photo: Getty]

You may experience heart burn, bloating and stomach pain on Christmas Day “quite easily,” continues Crothers. “This is because the pressure of the food volume in the stomach makes the sphincter at the top of the stomach open and allows stomach acid to go back up the oesophagus. As it can take a while for us to realise we are full, we can easily end up in this state.”

To avoid all the horrible symptoms that’ll leave you slouched in front of the TV, Katerina Vasilaki aka The Mediterranean Dietitian recommends using more vegetables as snacks and as part of your main meals, choosing whole fresh fruit to satisfy your need for sweetness and drinking water in between alcoholic drinks.

“Most importantly is to focus on what is on our plate – enjoy the flavours and taste of food without distractions. This will also give us the opportunity to listen to our bodies telling us that we have had enough and stop eating when full.”

Further advice from Crothers includes having three meals a day, instead of overeating at one. You should also remember to stay hydrated as dehydration can confuse the brain into thinking you’re hungry and get enough sleep on Christmas Eve as fatigue can cause you to eat an extra 400 calories a day.

Finally, “stick to the rules of quarters at mains – 1/4 plate of protein, 1/4 plate of carbohydrates and 1/2 plate of vegetables.”

“Our bodies all let us know when they are hungry and full up,” adds Dietitian UK expert Priya Tew. “The key is to tune into these signals and respond to them. Often we bypass them or ignore them. So this Christmas is a great time to start to reconnect with your body.”

“Think about how hunger feels to you and what the signs are that you are full. Remember by overeating, you will end up feeling uncomfortable so it is better to stop when you are satisfied and really enjoy what you eat.”

“A couple of occasions of overeating will not cause any problems. The key is to not feel food guilt and to savour all those delicious festive eats.”

Music to our ears.

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