The Plateau-proof Diet Foundation
Although the holidays are a time of celebration as well as reflection, they
also represent a veritable dieting nightmare. Almost as a rule, each
holiday party contains a wealth of food items deemed untouchable to most dieters.
It is no mistake that following the revelries of holiday binges come the all-forgiving
New Years resolutions, which most likely include some of the characteristics
such as overeating displayed during the previous weeks. This article will discuss
some facts concerning weight loss maintenance during the holidays as well as
some helpful hints to get you through them.
The average person gains approximately 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) during the holiday
season (1). Furthermore, people of all sizes gain weight in December and January.
Specifically, obese and normal-sized individuals gain 1.32 pounds (0.6 kg) and
0.88 pounds (0.4 kg), respectively (2). Although gaining 1.1 pounds may seem
like no big deal, for a person trying to lose weight, gaining instead of losing
weight is devastating and may threaten their desire to continue dieting.
So, why do we gain weight during the holidays? As you can probably imagine,
the reasons behind holiday weight gain are subjective, varying from person to
person, as well as complex, possibly involving multiple factors such as financial
and family stress along with increased social interactions surrounding foods
(i.e. holiday parties). Although occasional binge episodes during the holiday
seasons may seem harmless, there is evidence that people suffering from periodic
overeating are less likely to continue a dieting regimen (3). Furthermore, people,
who occasionally overeat, are more likely to have harder time controlling their
There is some evidence that self-monitoring, the systematic observation or recording
of target behaviors, may assist people during the holiday, helping individuals
to stay focused on their diet (4). In a study conducted by Baker et al., participants
that self-monitored, writing down their total food intake daily as well as time
the food was consumed and their weight each week, continued to lose weight during
the holiday season (4). However, the control group, participants that didnt
self-monitor, gained 500% more weight over the holiday. Perhaps, self-monitoring
serves as a checkpoint between putting a food item on your plate and into your
mouth. Even outside of the holiday season, individuals that self-monitor, lost
64% more weight and continued with their diet as compared to participants that
didnt self-monitor (5).
Perhaps self-monitoring provides some dieting consistency throughout the year.
A recent study of the National Weight Control Registry, composed of people who
lost significant amounts of weight and maintained their weight for 1 year, asked
the question: Does consistency in dieting matter in weight loss maintenance?
The answer was yes, people who maintained the same diet over weekdays, weekends,
and holidays were 1½ times more likely to maintain their weight as compared
to people dieted strictly on the weekdays and non-holidays (6). So, staying
consistent throughout the holiday season as well as self-monitoring can help
you get through the upcoming season, losing weight instead of gaining it. The
Plateau-Proof Diet Foundationoffers a free on-line weight loss log ([Http://www.plateauproofdiet.com/log/register.php])
where you will be able to record your weight loss, thus, self-monitor.
1.Garrow J 2000 Christmas factor and snacking. Lancet 355:8
2.Andersson I, Rossner S 1992 The Christmas factor in obesity therapy. Int
J Obes Relat Metab Disord 16:1013-5
3.Wadden TA, Bartlett S, Letizia KA, Foster GD, Stunkard AJ, Conill A 1992
Relationship of dieting history to resting metabolic rate, body composition,
eating behavior, and subsequent weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr 56:203S-208S
4.Baker RC, Kirschenbaum DS 1998 Weight control during the holidays: highly
consistent self-monitoring as a potentially useful coping mechanism. Health
5.Sperduto WA, Thompson HS, O'Brien RM 1986 The effect of target behavior
monitoring on weight loss and completion rate in a behavior modification program
for weight reduction. Addict Behav 11:337-40
6.Gorin AA, Phelan S, Wing RR, Hill JO 2004 Promoting long-term weight control:
does dieting consistency matter? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 28:278-81