It’s almost American Thanksgiving, which typically marks the onset of “holiday weight gain” media hype. I don’t know why every magazine, newspaper and talkshow host feels the need to regale us with diet tips (“Hold the stuffing!” “Don’t eat any bread before the big meal!”) and scary statistics (“Did you know the average person gains 10 pounds over the holiday season?”).
It’s like they want to ruin everybody’s festive mood by scaring us into austerity.
Here’s my take on the whole thing – personally, I don’t think losing/maintaining one’s weight over the holidays is any more challenging than losing/maintaining weight any other of year.
I can already imagine people’s responses to that statement.
“But what about all of the family dinners and holiday parties?”
What, you don’t have any social events to attend during the other 10 months of the year? Your family doesn’t get together to celebrate over food between the months of January and November? Even if we assume you never go to parties or family dinners outside the holiday season, chances are, you dine at restaurants every once in awhile where you probably consume just as many calories as you would during a typical holiday dinner without even realizing it.
The Dish recently analyzed the nutritional profile of a full Thanksgiving dinner (turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes, corn, green bean cassoerole, dinner roll with butter and a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream) and found it to be just over 1,000 calories. This article provides some much needed perspective by comparing this one big meal that many people stress over to other foods people eat on a regular basis. Stuff like Pad Thai (1,100 calories), Nachos (almost 3,000 calories), mocha lattes (800 calories). How many people eat this stuff every weekend without giving it a second thought but then get their panties in a bunch over the prospect of a family dinner? It’s so stupid.
My philosophy is to enjoy holiday dinners stress free. You’re there to celebrate with loved ones – don’t ruin it by agonizing over every morsel you put on your plate. If you want to drown your turkey in gravy, I say go for it. And have another glass of wine and a slice of cake while you’re at it. At the same time, don’t overdo it just because you can. Eating to the point of discomfort isn’t necessarily going to kill you, but it can ruin your evening just as much as depriving yourself.
“But there are so many temptations this time of year! Co-workers bring in homemade cookies, people come over with chocolates and other treats!”
Again, how is this any different than any other time of year? I don’t know about you, but my co-workers are constantly off loading their unhealthy crap in the common room and I am tempted almost daily by it (the common room happens to be en route to the washroom). But at the end of the day, I usually decide it’s not worth it. That if I indulged in a cookie or a piece of coffee cake, it wouldn’t be because I was really craving a treat but because it was there and I was bored and wanted a five minute distraction from my work. If you stick to this mindset throughout the holidays, you should be fine.
I don’t think the holidays are any different from the other months of the year – the same opportunities to indulge exist. What changes is people’s mindsets. They are constantly inundated with cautionary tales about holiday weight gain so they give up before the holidays even start. How many people do you know who are letting themselves go from now until January? People who are planning to “get back on track” in January?
The thing is, it’s not going to get any easier in January. Just as it’s not any harder to be healthy right now. So instead of procrastinating, you should try your best to stay healthy over the holidays. Indulge in moderation, of course, but don’t go overboard and ruin everything you’ve worked all year to achieve.
Do you let yourself go over the holidays? What are your thoughts on holiday weight gain?