There are numerous myths out there and especially powerful ones surrounding the holidays and holiday eating. My favorite ones always surround food.
The average person gains 7-10 lbs. over the holidays.
This is FALSE. While many of us indulge and even overindulge in sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits throughout the holiday season, the average person gains just 1 lb. with it being closer to 5 lbs. for those who are overweight as stated by a 2007 New York Time article (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/the-skinny-on-holiday-weight-gain/) and many other resources. While many of us feel like we have gained more than one pound, this can actually be attributed to bloating and water retention that typically comes with eating more refined foods, sugar, salt, alcohol, and simple overeating. Health.com explains “any time you eat more carbs than usual, you store the leftovers as glycogen, the ‘piggy bank’ reserve of carbohydrate that gets socked away in your muscle tissue. Holding onto more glycogen than you usually do can cause you to feel sluggish…Also, high sodium foods, like breads and baked goods, which don’t seem “salty” but are sodium-rich, will cause your body to hang onto excess fluid. While neither of these body shifts are weight from fat gain, they can create a bloated look, and make you feel heavy.”
The larger problem is not temporary weight gain or water retention, but that a month or more of unhealthy habits and eating does not end on January 1st. Instead, sugar cravings, overeating, lack of exercise, and more continue beyond the holidays. As a result we do not lose this 1 lb. gain and, instead, continue to gain a little more each year and do nothing about this extra weight until a few years down the road when it feels overwhelming.
So what do we do?
While I certainly do not suggest depriving yourself of fun social gatherings, delicious food, and fun activities, I do suggest picking and choosing what activities and foods you would like to indulge in. Instead of eating every finger food at the party even if you do not enjoy it, consider only eating those that you really want and enjoy. If that entails a piece of pie, then so be it.
The next step is to get back on track. Whenever we have an eating exception or indulge in an unhealthy habit, we stand at an important “Y” in the road. We can choose to either continue down the sabotaging road or we can simply get back on track with our healthy habits whatever they may be, such as, exercise, drinking plenty of water, removing sugar, or anything else. Deciding to get back on track provides positive benefits for our weight as well as our mental health, sleep, energy, confidence, and so much more.
I hope you enjoy the holidays and also find ways to take care of yourself and your health!