The "Holiday Overeating Season" officially begins at Thanksgiving. Welcome to: turkey and all the trimmings, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, endless platters of cookies, and treats at everyone's desk. Just thinking about traditional holiday meals can put the appetite in high gear, before even lifting a fork to taste that first savory bite. Those on weight loss programs either start strategizing on how to avoid overeating during these six weeks or else throw caution to the winds and decide to give up until after New Year's. The temptation to overeat is lurking at every table. By New Year's Day, many of us are avoiding the scales, wearing elastic-waist pants and thinking about joining a health club to undo the damage to our waistlines.Estimates on the average gain during the holidays ranges from one-half to ten pounds. So what is it? One scientific study on holiday weight gain tracked one hundred and ninety-five people. They were weighed before, during, and after the holidays. The average weight gain during the holidays was only about three-quarters of a pound. Weight gained during the six-week holiday period accounted for about one-half of the total weight gain over a year's time. When the volunteers were weighed a year after the study began, they had not lost the extra weight gained during the holidays, and ended the year a pound and a half heavier (1.4 lb) than they were the year before. Interestingly, the more overweight the study subjects were at the beginning of the holiday season, the more likely they were to gain at least five pounds or more over the holidays.Gaining three quarters of a pound over the holidays may not seem like that big a deal; but if you gain a pound and a half per year and don't take it off, you'll be 15 pounds heavier in 10 years! Even though the average weight gain may be relatively small, when added together year after a year, it likely contributes significantly to the substantial weight gain that occurs during adulthood. Since more than half of all Americans are considered overweight, which can increase risk for a multitude of serious diseases, holiday weight gain is something to be taken seriously.
Why spoil the festivities by feeling guilty about indulging in special foods for special times? You will likely feel frustrated and deprived when you force yourself to say "no," or guilty when you decide to indulge. Rather than trying to lose weight, try to prevent weight gain.