Holiday Weight Gain


holiday weight gainEvery year, throughout the world, people are affected by the phenomenon of holiday weight gain.

In the United States, research has found that people start to gain weight in October (think Halloween candy) and peak about 10 days after Christmas. On average, people’s weight increased by about 1.3 pounds during this time period. Nearly half of that weight came off quickly after the holiday season ended, but the other half wasn’t lost until about five months later, if at all. Similar trends were noted in other countries as all celebration periods usually involve having an increased intake of favorite foods. Another factor is that weight gain in the fall and winter is due to a combination of holiday foods and colder temperatures.

Many people wait until after the holidays to create New Year’s resolutions. Still, an alternative would be to start your resolutions in October and make mindful goals not to gain too much weight at the start of the holiday weight gain period. Of course, you should enjoy special occasions and indulge during the holidays, but not the whole holiday season.

Strategies for the holidays:

  • Be aware of social modeling – being around food and people who are eating makes us eat more. Just being aware of this environmental factor can help you manage your own food intake.
  • Eat before arriving. Eating a healthy snack or light meal beforehand will help curb your appetite.
  • Eat breakfast. This has been shown to prevent overeating later in the day.
  • Bring your own food. Bring a healthy dish that you can feel good about eating and sharing.
  • Compose your plate with lower-calorie foods (i.e., leafy green salads, vegetable dishes, lean proteins). That way, you can eat a larger amount of food for fewer calories and not feel deprived.
  • Eat healthier options first. Design your first plate with healthful foods and be mindful of subsequent helpings.
  • Use smaller plates. Research shows that using smaller plates and bowls allows us to eat less food.
  • Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item.
  • Keep track of what you eat. Consider keeping a food diary during the holidays to help you stay mindful.
  • Check out my previous post, “Strategies to Keep Holidays Healthy, Safe, & Happy.”