Nutrition, the Holidays, and Annual Weight Gain


The holiday bulge is now a scientific fact. Almost everyone has experienced the 5 to 10 lbs. jump that tends to happen between Halloween and the winter holidays. It starts off simple enough, with a few handfuls of candy or a quick batch of seasonal cookies, but before you know it the seasonal treats take over, becoming a kitchen staple from the start of November all the way through the New Year.

Healthy nutrition habits are important all year round, but if you want to maintain your medical weight loss goals through the holiday season, then you are going to have to double down and put extra effort into making the right food choices all winter long. Between the colder weather and the ample amount of temptation, this isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do.

Gaining a little bit of weight during this time of year is not a sign of personal weakness—it is a sign that you are human, and that you have something in common with the majority of Americans. A recent study out of Cornell University looked at the annual weight patterns of almost 2,000 study participants. The research team looked at nutrition and weight loss habits throughout all 12 months of the year. What the researchers found was rather expected, but not exactly great news. Basically, despite whatever weight loss efforts the participants reported, most people gained weight between November 1st and December 31st. The average level of weight gain during this period is approximately 0.7 percent of personal body weight. Perhaps the most discouraging piece of information revealed in this study was the finding that the average person took about five months to lose the gained holiday weight.

Holiday weight gain can put you in a negative loop of weight gain and re-stabilization, without giving you the chance to see any real results that last long thanks to the long time it takes to lose weight and the quick pace at which it can be re-gained.

The researchers did find that there are some habits that help people avoid getting pulled into this annual cycle, however. For example, the researchers found that those who weigh themselves four times a week or more are more likely to resist holiday weight gain. Working with a medical weight loss program through this challenging time of the year is another helpful tactic in avoiding potential weight gain.

You don’t have to give into the holiday bulge. Stay accountable to your weight loss goal and do your best to remain positive about your progress. If you need a little extra support this time of year, don’t hesitate to check in with your medical weight loss doctor.

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