You’ve probably heard all kinds of dubious stats and facts about weight gain over the holiday season. The average Christmas dinner has 7000 calories (more than twice what you need in a day); the average person gains 7-10 pounds over the Christmas period, and so on. Usually, these scary figures are paired with so-called helpful ways to avoid the dreaded gain. Try drinking eggnog out of a sieve to save on calories! Only eat cookies that Cro-Magnon man would have eaten! Run 40 km each time you go back for seconds, to make sure you’re really still hungry! All very good and helpful advice.
The whole “holiday weight gain” concept is largely false, and science has proven it. A 2000 study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the real amount weight their test subjects gained over the holiday season was more like one pound at the most. These results were confirmed by a 2013 study from Texas Tech University.
These results make sense. When you change your eating habits for a short amount of time, the changes that occur in your body are almost always temporary as well. Your body works to keep your weight within a certain range, so when you return to normal eating habits, your body tends to return to its former state as well. Many people experience this whilst trying to lose weight – but it works both ways.
Instead of freaking out over potential weight gain over the holidays, try to eat mindfully. Choose to eat something because you really want it and you enjoy it, not because you’re anxious, bored, or your great aunt is trying to guilt-trip into one more cookie. And if you eat more than normal, don’t beat yourself up about it!
The holidays can be an emotional time, so make sure to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, try to manage stress as best you can, and fit in some exercise to help keep your mood stabilized. Above all, try to relax and have fun with your friends and family. At the end of the day, that’s what the holiday season is all about.