As much as we would all like to think that gaining holiday weight is an unavoidable yearly tradition that will be counteracted by the January fitness crunch, it simply is not true. According to research done by the National Institute of Health, the average American will only gain at most two pounds throughout the holiday feasting season; however, it does take upward of five months to shed these pounds – ironically, just in time for summer barbecue season. Based on the conclusions of this research, it’s safe to assume healthy pro-gym New Year resolutions and mid-spring strives towards “summer bods” will not change much for the average person. It might be in the best interest of anyone already anticipating the desire to combat excessive eating habits this upcoming holiday season to consider the following suggestions before giving into the mainstream assumptions of holiday weight gain.
First and foremost, the extra tight feeling of your waistband following a huge family meal probably is not from just overeating. Bloating and water retention from high levels of sodium intake do in part contribute to why some people claim to jump a size over the festive season. As much as I hate to give cliché advice, choosing water over wine, soda or juices is probably the way to go. According to surveys taken by Food & Wine magazine, the average American will start to consume food and drinks at noon Thanksgiving Day. Often, this is then followed by a full-blown dinner at 3 p.m. This schedule makes it all the more believable that the average adult consumes 3 to 5 beverages throughout Thanksgiving dinner. For Christmas and New Years, this number tends toward the higher end; thus, sticking with water for even half of these drinks can have some major benefits. Not only does it solve the former problems of bloating, but it can also ensure there is no overconsumption later on.
Again, at the risk of over preaching the ‘end all be all’ solution that is water, being dehydrated can also be misinterpreted by the body as hunger, thus perpetuating the trend of over-consumption. Some choose to fast before holiday dinners as to “fit more.” Unfortunately, this usually means fitting more of the unhealthiest parts of traditional foods such as stuffing, pies, dinner rolls, and eggnog. As incredulous as it may sound in the moment, these dishes will still be available after the holidays. Eating as if there was an incoming shortage will just lead to the otherwise totally avoidable holiday weight gain.
Holiday weight gain in the short run is realistically not devastating at only one to two pounds a season, but it can and will add up. As publications by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests, weight gain from the holidays can be attributed to a drastic increasing likelihood of obesity over time. Thus, it is best to correct habits now and not assume that lifestyle changes can be made with zeal post-New Year’s resolutions. The myths surrounding the inevitable health implications of holiday consumption and following quick loss of it are just that: myths. Yet, this narrative is rooted in some real facts in that some lifestyle choices that are made during the holidays can have long reaching impacts.