ADELAIDE: (AAP) Health experts are warning that Christmas can be a very stressful time for those worrying about their weight.
The South Australian Children, Youth and Women's Health Service says after the turkey and pudding leftovers have gone, the hot summer days return the focus to fewer and more revealing clothes and advertisements for shaping up or trimming down.
In turn, New Year's resolutions to lose weight and get fit can often mean starting a restrictive diet or over-ambitious exercise regime.
The service's senior health promotion officer Janine Phillips said pressure to achieve the ideal weight and shape can become an obsession.
"It is true that obesity is at epidemic levels in Australia," Ms Phillips said.
"However a constant focus on losing weight can create a risk that people will suffer from mental health issues related to negative body image.
"Even people who are not obese or overweight can be affected."
Ms Phillips said restrictive diets were rarely recommended by dieticians and usually failed, leaving individuals feeling physically and emotionally drained.
Instead, she suggested including plenty of fresh fruits and salads on the festive menu, small amounts of indulgences, and doing some physical activity each day.
"Summer is a time when wonderful fresh fruits and salads abound and it's easy to grab a healthy snack to take on a walk or bike ride," she said.
"You can also use the long daylight hours to walk the dog, play with the kids or do some gardening.
"Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight does not have to mean deprivation and hard work."
And while it can be tempting to 'splurge' at this time of year, moderation is the key to healthy eating.