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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

November 21, 2011

The holiday season is upon us, which means time for shopping, partying, decorating trees, lighting menorahs, preparing for Kwanzaa, and celebrating the Winter Solstice.  With the obesity panic in full on freak-out mode, however, it also means endless tips on how to avoid end-of-the-year weight gain. But it turns out the reports about holiday eating have been  greatly exaggerated.

The main assumption is that we all gain anywhere from 7-10 pounds from now through December because we can’t stop munching on goodies during our holiday gatherings.  According to these articles, though, the amount is… wait for it…


That’s right! One measly pound or less for the majority of us. For some of us who are deathfat, it’s five pounds. Now, like the studies we tend to criticize which only study only a small population, the initial study in 2000 followed just 165 people with racially diverse backgrounds and an average age of 39.  Another study was done with just 82 college students, and that test discovered that average body weight did not significantly change between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Of course, the authors bemoaned the fact that this extremely miniscule weight gain was not lost.

Oh, the horror!

Even if no studies were done, it’s probably a given that most people don’t gain a lot of weight in two short months. There are other factors that may figure into this, such as poverty and/or homelessness, as well as those whose eating habits really don’t change simply because it’s the holidays.

So the next time you hear that we gain a lot of weight during this holiday season, ignore it. It’s just a scare tactic to get you to part with even more money that was previously spent on presents, and invest in weight loss plans and other diet gimmicks. Don’t waste your money and your sanity on a one pound or less weight gain. Enjoy your holiday, whichever ones you celebrate.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2011 12:30 pm

    Despite these being small studies, the fact is that there aren’t any studies that validate the belief that we gain 5 or more pounds during the holidays. So, when it’s small studies versus no studies, the small studies win!

    One of the studies you cited found that just 10% of people gain more than 5 pounds during the holidays, but that could be as much due to seasonal affective disorder as the abundance of holiday foods.

    Personally, I think the “holiday gain” canard is just a way of priming the pump for the New Year’s Resolution. So the people who “feel fatter” after the holidays will have a perfect excuse to buy a gym membership or join Jenny Craig on January 1.

    Great find, Bree!


    • November 23, 2011 10:31 pm

      “Personally, I think the “holiday gain” canard is just a way of priming the pump for the New Year’s Resolution. So the people who “feel fatter” after the holidays will have a perfect excuse to buy a gym membership or join Jenny Craig on January 1.”

      Shannon, you have inspired me to consider holding a local “Health At Every Size – Size Acceptance Walk” on New Year’s Day!

      It falls on a Saturday, so I’m thinking on Saturday afternoon – to let people recover from New Year’s Eve and so that women who can’t stand football 😉 can get away and have a walk together! I’d advertise it on so people in my area could find it. Perhaps people in other parts of the country could do the same!

      Just publicizing that event might inspire people to not fall for the diet and weight loss product blitz/pressure on 1/1!

  2. November 21, 2011 6:49 pm

    Shannon, that insight about “priming the pump” for New Years weight loss resolutions is brilliant. Both the author and you have just considerably brightened my holidays. People who yap about weight and what they “should” and “shouldn’t” be eating really ruin the beautiful meals and festivities. Both your insights will help me “HAES” my way through the holidays more peacefully. I’d like to put some sort of “No Diet Talk” wreath on my door for an enjoyable conversation starter and to keep a pleasant tone for visits.

    • November 23, 2011 9:16 am

      Somebody should quickly make a No Diet Talk wreath with a regular wreath and a bar across the middle. In the middle you can place Jenny Craig material, SlimFast cans, a scale. Decorate it however you like, but it would definitely send a message to people that the holidays are no place for weight-based whining. If you don’t want to eat, don’t eat, but don’t tell me about how turkey skin is terrible and how horrible the pumpkin pie is, but I’ll just have a nibble to satisfy me.

      The other day, I heard this woman telling her weight loss story and she shared how she and her husband still “indulge” on Thanksgiving, but now they each have just one bite of pie each, and throw the rest away. Gee, a whole bite of pie on Thanksgiving Day? That’s totally worth being temporarily thin. Give me some more of that!


      • November 23, 2011 9:35 am

        I find that stupidly offensive and wasteful, given how many people are unemployed and hungry nowadays. What a pair of asshats.

        • lifeonfats permalink
          November 23, 2011 1:24 pm

          I was going to say the same thing. A pie with a few fork fulls missing could be someone’s entire meal for the week.

      • November 23, 2011 10:24 pm

        If I have time I might work on a graphic of such a wreath, Shannon 🙂

        Regarding the pie, very sad, and I agree with Lifeonfats and CC, with all the poor people in the world…that’s terrible.

        I would gladly enjoy that pie!

  3. November 21, 2011 11:40 pm

    I was told over and over that if people didn’t constantly monitor what they ate, they’d eat everything in sight, and I truly believed it until a few years ago. That’s when I finally stopped dieting and yes, there was some binging, but that didn’t last long, then some of the food I obsessed over when dieting barely gets any thought at all.

    I sometimes don’t know if I’m doing HAES right because I still engage in some dieting like behavior, at least from the outside it might seem like dieting behavior, but on the inside it doesn’t feel like it and I guess that’s what counts.

  4. November 22, 2011 1:50 pm

    ahhh yes the new year’s rez build up…starting now!

  5. lifeonfats permalink
    November 22, 2011 4:50 pm

    January sucks because of all the “YOU HAVE TO LOSE ALL THAT WEIGHT YOU GAINED IN DECEMBER NOW!” crap. The “New Year, New You” junk maybe lasts for a lot of people, not even the entire month. It would be interesting to see how much money is wasted on diet plans and exercise equipment. It’s also pretty telling when yard sale time comes around and there always seems to be some type of workout machine up for sale.

    That said, I was surprised to read how little most people gain over the holidays. The media likes to believe it’s all party, party, party and food, food, food but for me and I’m sure for a lot of others, that’s not simply the case. I have one main get-together at Christmastime besides the two family meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    • November 22, 2011 4:57 pm

      Perhaps now that we’ve seen this, and if more people knew, perhaps more of us would feed ourselves enough during the holidays to not be excessively tempted by holiday sweets. It’s so insane, how we’re told to undereat and to fear food and our hunger, which in turn causes the bingeing on less-healthy foods.

      I am so tired of hearing others complain about holiday foods, and I, too, don’t want to be eating tons of sweets, so I just bring very nutritious things like sliced fruit, veggies, or salads to gatherings, or nuts and grain foods like whole-grain crackers or bread. People appreciate it, too, and it helps us all to feel better through the stress of the holidays.

  6. November 23, 2011 10:34 pm

    Now I want pumpkin pie tomorrow!

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