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How Can Patients Avoid Weight Gain When Faced with Holiday Treats?

As we move closer to the holidays, weight gain increases—with the greatest gain occurring in the 10 days after Christmas.

As the weather gets cooler and daylight hours become shorter, people spend more time indoors. This can pose challenges, especially for people with obesity, when “comfort food” may seem like the only bright spot on long, dreary days. This can lead to weight gain, which is exacerbated as we move deeper into the holiday season. Beginning in October and continuing into the New Year, weight gain increases, with the greatest gain occurring in the 10 days after Christmas.1

Fortunately, there is still time to work with patients to develop a plan to deal with holiday temptations. Depravation doesn’t work, as is consistently evidenced by the poor outcomes of fad diets that rely heavily on this strategy. A more sensible — and achievable — approach is to plan ahead for the food challenges that will certainly arise and to figure out a way to enjoy the merriment while limiting weight gain. Moderation in consumption and prevention of gain are the goals.

Planning Ahead for Holiday Food Temptations

The first “test” is just around the corner with Halloween. Even those who don’t have children or don’t take part in the festivities face overflowing candy displays the moment they walk into a store. This type of temptation will continue to increase as holiday gatherings and cookie swaps start to dot people’s calendars, while they open their doors to holiday gift baskets.

Here are some tips to share with patients to help them navigate the increased challenges they will face over the next few months:

Planning and Preparation are Key

If you are are in a weight loss program prior to the holidays you need not feel left out. A medically-supervised program allows for personalization so cravings for something sweet or savory can be accommodated, and the support from a weight management team is key as well. An experienced team will encourage behavior change and the formation of healthy habits — such as increasing water consumption and physical activity — which can have a lasting effect as you go into the season at a lower weight and, ideally, having adopted strategies that minimize the impact of holiday (over)eating.

The takeaways are: to enjoy the holidays with family and friends by having a plan for those times where the type or amount of food available will be tempting; to be mindful when eating to genuinely taste and enjoy treats; and to incorporate greater activity and healthy eating when meals are within the patient’s control.

[1] Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries

*Robard, How Can Patients Avoid Weight Gain When Faced with Holiday Treats?,   By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.,, 10/26/2021

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