Holiday Weight Gain a Big Fat Lie

The above mentioned headline derives from the December 2002 MSNBC - Web MD health website. The story implies that holiday weight gain has less to do with overeating and more to do with a shortage of exercise and habits across the entire year. The story begins by saying "Weight gain is normally blamed on the season, the rich, sweet and gourmet foods that surround the holiday season. The actual problem, experts say, is not enough physical exercise year-round, as well as serving sizes and self control, moderation is key."

The content quotes a March 2000 study from the New England Journal of Medicine which demonstrated that out of a study of 195 adults, followed from late September to early March, the majority put on only 1.06 pounds during that six months' time. However, by the following September, 165 of the participants were weighed again. This time around on average, they were each up about 1.36 pounds from their initial weights. This indicated that the modest weight gain these individuals experienced during the holidays was never lost during the next 6 months. Dr. Jack A. Yanovski, head of Growth and Obesity at the National Institutes of Health, revealed that these results show good and bad news. "The good news is that many people are not gaining 5 to 6 pounds over the holidays, however the bad news is weight gained during the winter holidays isn't lost throughout the remaining portion of the year." Cynthia Sass, nutritionist with BayCare Health System in Clearwater, Fla., and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says, "Fat gain does indeed require overeating over many days and weeks and months." She also noted that individuals who attempt to under-eat prior to the holidays are simply just losing water and carbohydrates stored in muscles, all of which will naturally stabilize with time. It is the time spent exercising, or getting some physical activity, that truly determines who gains more than one pound.

Sass has several recommendations which will help during the holidays.

1. Eliminate the negative, guilt-ridden thoughts about "these horrible extra calories." Take advantage of the holiday dinner.
2. Fix your traditional favorites the stuffing, the pie just like you always have or you'll feel cheated. Certain side dishes could lose a little fat, such as the green bean casserole, candied yams, and buttered
mashed potatoes. Steamed green beans, broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, and unglazed carrots can fill in the gaps. "You're compromising, but not in a depriving type of way."
3. Eat a tiny bit less than you otherwise might. Eat slower. Select one desert to treat yourself, as opposed to taste-testing them all.
4. Incorporate physical activity into your get-togethers with friends and family. Play charades or games, practice a new dance step, whatever enables you to move about some.
5. Go for a walk after dinner but try not to force anyone who's overweight to walk if they are not accustomed to it. "Especially following a big meal, you have less blood flow and oxygen to your heart and lungs. The bodyis still working to digest it all."
6. Keep in mind the quality of life enjoying life is important.

Back to Articles List