Holiday Weight Gain Is Not Lost Over the Course of the Year

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • It seems the celebration begins at Thanksgiving and lasts until the year ends on New Year’s Eve. And where there is celebration, there is sure to be indulgence. For most of us, indulgence easily turns to over-indulgence. We stuff ourselves with food and wine during more than a month of celebration. Then on New Year’s Day we make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, and eat healthy.


    However, the weight gained during the holidays may not be lost over the remainder of the year according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Study participants were weighed one-year after the study began and gained an average of 1.4 pounds, over half of which was accumulated during the six-week holiday period. This suggests that a large proportion of yearly weight gain occurs during the holidays and is likely to accrue over the years — consequently holiday over indulgences are a significant contributor to the weight gain that occurs during adulthood.

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    Maintain Don’t Gain at the Holidays!


    Therefore, we should try to maintain, not gain, weight during the holiday season. Although it may mean breaking away from family traditions, small changes can help you to maintain your weight without robbing you of fully enjoying the celebrations. Take my family tradition as an example. When I was a child, my mother and her sisters all served smoked ham, potato salad, and loads of alcohol and Christmas cookies for Christmas Eve Supper. We’d caravan from house to house to taste the delicacies that my mother and each of my aunts had made. I have very fond memories of those times spent with my family. Ham and potato salad was my family’s version of soul food.


    It has been decades since I celebrated Christmas like this, and over time I had forgotten the traditional meal. But last year I was fortunate to reunite with one of my aunts. My cousin and I and our spouses went to Aunt Janet’s home on Christmas Eve. It was there that all the memories and feelings of childhood came rushing back when we sat down to eat supper: Baked ham and potato salad, cookies, chocolates, and lots of liquor.


    I felt all warm and fuzzy inside as I ate the potato salad – a food that I never eat anymore but on that occasion I made an exception. How can I describe to you that it tasted like “home?” I passed on the ham and cookies as I do not eat red meat or grains – no exceptions! Of course, this raised an issue for my aunt who felt badly she had served something I could not eat. And then ensued a discussion about my strict dietary guidelines, and that parlayed into a debate about animal cruelty. It was a distraction from the wonderful event at hand.


    Thankfully, my aunt had made a cheese platter and I had brought a grain-free apple crumb cake. So there were foods that I could eat, although this was not a well-thought out plan of eating on my part.


    Lesson Learned


    The lesson learned for me is to be prepared. There’s a saying the marines have: Proper planning prevents p*ss poor performance. I could have eaten before I arrived at my aunt’s home. Better yet, I could have brought something that is on my plan of eating, such as a casserole of chicken and vegetables to be served alongside the ham and potato salad. The other guests and I could have enjoyed the celebration without anyone raising an eyebrow at my strict dietary plan.


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    The Bottom Line


    Planning ahead to prevent holiday weight gain this season will help you to maintain your body weight throughout the year.



    Living life well-fed,  


    My Bariatric Life





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    References: NEJM A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain


Published On: December 15, 2013