Holiday Hypocrisy

I receive an email newsletter that contains various recipes and cooking tips. This week's featured Thanksgiving, but not in the way I would have hoped.

The subject line? How not to gain weight during the holidays.

What was interesting was a little Post-It graphic also in the newsletter, saying that women overestimate their average holiday weight gain by 3 pounds. Buried in an "advice" column with a question from a woman trying to stay on a diet over the holidays is a factoid that the average holiday weight gain is less than one pound.

That's what the fuss is all about.


A Google search of "preventing holiday weight gain" yielded almost 300,000 hits.

Imagine how much time and energy and money we waste over this. How many better things we could be worried about.

Another statistic I heard: one in eight Americans lives on the brink of hunger, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. And we're all so worried about a weight gain of less than one pound?

We need to get a grip.

And a special welcome to everyone who came to this blog because they googled "preventing holiday weight gain." This post's for you.

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samsi77 said...

Happy Turkey Day! I love the last line of the blog, it rocks! My hypothesis is that if the typical non-ED individual were to eat out in response to hunger-satiety cues and not alter their eating patterns in preparation for "The BIG meal" then they would neither gain nor lose weight! However, this would be way to simple to write about & would not attract the same attention that "New Diet News" headlines do!

Anonymous said...

samsi77, I am not so sure that people wouldn't gain or lose weight since hunger and satiety cues can be temporarily altered by outside factors (such as the food available or if you eat with other people or alone). However, I do believe that most non-disordered eaters would lose the weight they gained slowly but automatically once the holidays were over. (I think I heard of a study on this, but I am not sure... it was second hand information, however, it makes sense to me.)

Also, I think it's often forgotten that quite a number of people tend to gain some weight in winter anyways and lose it again in summer.

As an example, my dad comes to my mind. He is an intuitive eater without any worries about his weight. During winter time he usually gains a little weight (maybe partially due to the holidays, but also because he is somewhat less active) which he loses again in spring and summer. (He is 69 now and he has become a few pounds heavier over the last 20 years - but people usually also forget that slight weight gain with age seems to be normal and even healthy.)

Ai Lu said...


Thanks for your down-to-earth manner of reminding us that a weight gain of 1 lb. is hardly anything to get worked up about.

As for intuitive eating, I think that there is a time and a place for eating a little more than one normally would: holidays are totally appropriate times to have an extra piece of turkey or a large serving of dessert. Part of eating intuitively, I think, is to have some flexibility in what we eat: to let ourselves have more some days, and less others, without that necessarily being a calculated process. Certainly, having a bit more than we eat on other days is not going to break the bank or the diet in the long run, whereas giving ourselves permission to have that extra something can really help ease anxiety.

Lisa and Jim said...

I've been getting those emails too. It's funny - my dietician told me once that her weight fluctuates up to six pounds over a single day. Still took me a long time to stop obsessing over the scale, but that comment stayed with me.

PS the new(er?) jewelry is lovely.

Anonymous said...

been lurking for a while now...just wanted to say i love your blog more and more with each post.

Carrie Arnold said...

I think part of what people forget is that weight naturally fluctuates- even for intuitive eaters!

And part of intuitive eating means being okay with eating a little more because it's the holidays and the food is good. But it also really decreases the urge to stuff yourself because it's a "holiday" and you "can."

I Hate to Weight said...

i always wonder what intuitive eaters do. do they always eat when hungry and stop when full? do they eat the occasional snack because it tastes good, even if they're not hungry? i just ate a mini candy bar, because it looked good and wondered if intuitive eaters do that too. i spent a long time (way too long) pondering that question. then i came home and just read this post. great timing

Anonymous said...

Melissa, from watching the few intuitive eaters that I know I think that they sometimes do eat though they are "not really hungry" just because there is food they really like - but it balances out over the long time because after a rather big meal or a even a few days of eating more than usual they just don't feel like eating that much anymore. (Hack, I am probably as far removed from an intuitive eater as possible and yet there comes a point when certain foods don't appeal to me.)

Unknown said...

"The holidays can definitely be a stressful time especially for those who suffer from eating disorders. The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt recently wrote a blog entry with helpful tips for the holidays. They provide 10 great ways to manage holiday stress and anxiety.
Click here to read more:

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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