The weight that you gain this holiday season is likely to remain until the summer months, or beyond, according to a recent letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Across three different countries, researchers found that while up to half of holiday weight gain is lost shortly after the holidays, half remains for months later.
As part of their year-long study, researchers came to this conclusion by giving participants wireless scales and asking them to weigh themselves regularly. Not surprising, they found that weight spiked around holiday celebrations: Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States, Christmas in Germany, and Golden Week in Japan. In Thanksgiving, for example, Americans added 0.2% to their weight.
“Of course, the less one gains, the less one then has to worry about trying to lose it,” the authors comment.
The looming possibility of holiday weight gain shouldn’t dampen your holiday spirit. It’s simply a reminder that we need to be vigilant. If you are looking for a way to thoroughly enjoy the fun while staving off the pounds, try doing this before this year’s holidays: Consciously reframe the role food plays in your enjoyment of the season.
3 Tips for a Happy and Weight Gain Free Holiday Season
Focus on festivities, not food. While holiday feasts and holiday parties beckon, holidays are, above all, a time for enjoying family and friends. They are also a time for reflection and giving thanks. Rather than letting this holiday season center around food, shift your focus to traditions and activities that only come along this time of year. Whether decorating your Christmas tree, singing carols, playing board games, watching classic movies, or strolling through holiday lights, fill yourself with the spirit and mood of the season.
Only splurge on seasonal delights. Being weight conscious around the holidays does not mean you need to deprive yourself of favorite holiday recipes. If there is a casserole or morning breakfast that fills your home with the smell of Christmas, no need to hold yourself back from enjoying. But some treats that make their way to the holiday table are available year round. You can skip indulging on store bought cookies and cakes.
Another way to keep holiday meals from being overly decadent is to have healthy options on the table as well. You can fill up on roasted vegetables to control your portions of cheesy, buttery casseroles and pumpkin cheesecake.
Stick with your routine. Sure the holidays are fun and festive. But they are also stressful and exhausting. Let’s face it; there is lots do to and lots we want to do. Even if we have a good routine going into the holidays, it’s easy to fall off the wagon. Buying gifts, decorating, and preparing meals sometimes push out other priorities, such as exercise. We may even get tempted to skimp on sleep to cross off another holiday gift. The more we stick with our routine, however, the less likely we are to let it all go completely. Getting regular sleep and exercise are doubly helpful because they keep our stress level in check—and make it less likely that we will stress eat our way through the holidays.