Christmas is often an excuse to stuff ourselves to the point of bursting with the average adult consuming around 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat in just one Christmas meal.

A 72kg person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 48 kilometres to burn off those calories.

If you don’t fancy the extra exercise to keep your body in check this Christmas, consider the following points to avoid over eating and how best to avoid the Christmas bulge.

Maintain your normal routine

Our normal routine generally goes out the window this time of year as we leave work so our lifestyle behaviour changes for a few weeks. An American study has found on average, people will put on an extra kilo during this time.

Get up at your normal time and go for a walk to get the body moving for the day. Don’t skip breakfast as this will avoid binging later on in the evening because you are still hungry. Maintain portion sizes and fill up on fibre to keep you fuller for longer.

Slow down your eating

The hormone leptin is released by your fat cells to warn us to stop eating when we are full. The quicker you eat, the less time your brain has to register the feeling of fullness. Your stomach can stretch to the volume of about one litre with your Christmas meal and produces acid to break down the food.

Too much food means more acid which can lead to heartburn. Eat slowly and keep some antacids on standby to neutralise the acid.

Avoid alcoholic drinks

Alcohol is packed full of sugars adding extra calories to your diet. The fizz in some alcohol will fill your stomach full of gases and add to the bulge. Alcohol also makes you lose inhibitions so you are more likely to cave into food cravings.

Swap alcohol for water whenever you can as this will help with hangovers too.

Don't lose site of your goals

It’s quite easy to give up on your fitness at this time of year and use Christmas as an excuse for a few weeks. Keep up your fitness routine and maintain your cardio if nothing else. Fit in an unscheduled run or grab some free weights and work out in front of the TV. Short bursts of exercise will help maintain your metabolism helping you to burn fat throughout the day.

Keep stress to a minimum

Most importantly of all enjoy yourself. Anxiety can lead to an increased bulge as it shuts down a part of the brain that handles digesting foods.

Our body pumps out stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which inhibit the digestive system. This creates an environment where foods end up being digested poorly, leading to the creation of gas and bloating.

If the in-laws stress you out at this time of year, don’t invite them!