Winter Holiday Weight Gain: Is It Seven Or Is It One . . .

Pound?  Doesn’t it feel like at least seven pounds of weight gain, all of it blubber?

A lot of us start indulging at Thanksgiving (some at Halloween) and don’t stop the free style calorie fest until those onerous New Year’s Resolutions.  Then, because we feel guilty about indulgences, we swear we won’t touch another cookie or piece of cake or candy until we lose massive amounts of weight.

That resolution is doomed to fail because it is unrealistic.  Banning something entirely (unless it is for very specific reasons) equates to deprivation. That almost always leads to you know what: admitting you can’t stand it and chowing down on a box of cookies, half a pie, or three candy bars (definitely super-sized) in a row.

Some Facts

A study of holiday related weight gain published in The New England Journal of Medicine found:

  • 85% of the study’s participants made no effort to control their calorie intake
  • the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year was slightly less than a pound
  • participants thought they had gained four times as much
  • less than 10% gained five pounds or more
  • participants who gained the most weight were more likely to already be overweight or obese

The problem is that most of us don’t lose that extra pound that attaches itself  during the holidays. That means that some of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating.

And, for those of us already overweight, the news is worse. Although the average holiday gain is only one pound, people who are already overweight tend to gain a lot more – one study found five or more pounds during the holidays.

Something To Think About

You need to eat 3,500 extra calories to gain a pound. The average Christmas dinner has about 956 calories. What packs on the weight?

Most of the extra calories don’t come from the “day of” holiday meal but from the nibbling during the holiday season. It’s way too easy to add on 500 extra calories a day which means a pound in a week (7 x 500 = 3500 calories, or 1 pound).

Some Common 500 (around) Calorie Indulgences

  • 12 ounces of eggnog
  • 1 piece of pecan pie
  • 3 ounces of mixed nuts
  • 22.5 Hershey’s Kisses
  • Starbucks’ Venti Peppermint Mocha with whipped cream
  • 4 glasses (5oz.) of wine
  • 10 regular size candy canes
  • 2-3 large Christmas cookies

Some Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Do I really want it or does it look good, smell good, or just mean Christmas?
  • Is it worth the calories?
  • Do I need all of it (or any of it) to be happy?
  • What is most important to me?

Answer your questions and decide what you want to do.  Eat mindfully and enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

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2 Responses to Winter Holiday Weight Gain: Is It Seven Or Is It One . . .

  1. Dana @ Budget Dietitian December 20, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday!

    • Penny December 20, 2010 at 9:11 am #

      Happy and healthy holidays to you, too. Thanks for some great posts.

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