One of the reasons so many of us put on weight over the festive season is because Christmas isn’t just celebrated on one day anymore; there are almost two months of non-stop parties, catch-ups, food and wine to contend with before Santa does his rounds.

And although we all love a good party, it’s hard to stay on track with a healthy eating plan when you’re out every night of the week. The free-flowing alcohol doesn’t make it any easier either; under the influence of Champagne, those fancy canapés can undo the best intentions in a single mouthful.

As well as overindulging a little too much, it’s easy to let your fitness and gym sessions fall by the wayside as social functions, school holidays, family outings and gatherings take over your routine. The health pros at Fernwood Fitness help us out with a few tips on staying in top shape throughout the holidays.

1. Balance your food intake

In order to not head back to the office in January with a few extra kilos in tow, you need to be smart about your food consumption over the holiday period. If you overindulge at a party one day don’t stress too much, just ensure you keep it light the next day. Fill up on salads, lean cuts of meat and vegetable sticks, and remember to stick simply to water for hydration.

2. Keep up the exercise

If you’re unable to attend your regular gym over the summer holidays, don’t fret! The summer months are full of opportunities to get outdoors and get active. Head to the park with a frisbee, go for a run along the beach, or dig out that old boogie board and jump in the surf. Whatever gets you moving and working up a sweat will help burn off those extra holiday treats.

3. Limit your alcohol

We know you’re likely to indulge in a little more alcohol over the silly season, just bear in mind that alcohol is full of empty calories. A glass of wine can have more kilojoules than a Caramello Koala! If you’re going to have a drink, your best choice is vodka mixed with soda and a squeeze of fresh lime, which averages less than 270 kilojoules per glass.

Try to stick to the recommended two glasses, drink plenty of water in between, and ensure you have two alcohol-free days a week.

4. Be party food smart

The trick to staying in control of what you eat when you go to a party is to not go out on an empty stomach. Eat a small, healthy snack before heading to a big event. Something satisfying like a bowl of fruit and yoghurt, a small soup, or even a light salad will help you stay away from those mini pies.

But if you don’t have time for a pre-party snack, there are still plenty of healthy choices you can make. Some of the more modern canapés we’re seeing passed around at functions can actually be quite friendly on your waistline. The trick to avoiding party weight gain is to make sure you only eat a few canapés (4-5 is plenty) and stick to the healthier options.

Some of the best choices are Vietnamese rice paper rolls, sushi, prawns, oysters and chicken and beef skewers. Pass on anything that’s crumbed, deep fried or covered with pastry.

Visit Fernwood Fitness to find your local club and more information on their women’s-only fitness programs.

How do you stay healthy during the holidays?