Its easy to blame office parties, special holiday foods and other goodies for holiday weight gain, but the real reason we pack on the pounds during the holidays is because of the food cues that bring back memories.
Christmas Memories and Weight Gain
Holiday traditions can be a trigger for overeating. Christmas can be a time for remembrance and missing loved ones or just remember Christmases past. Baking and decorating Christmas cookies like you did when you were a kid can evoke a strong urge to eat the cookies. Cutting into dessert can bring up memories of a grandparent and the times he or she would bake fresh pies for the holidays. Sipping on eggnog can bring about memories of a time when the whole family would gather around the fireplace after singing Christmas carols.
Whatever your family traditions may be, what you ate and drank at the time are strongly linked to the times you shared over the years. This time of year, as you encounter these special foods that are eaten rarely, it brings these memories out and indulging in these items creates a feeling of warmth and comfort.
Be Aware of Emotional Eating Cues to Control Christmas Weight Gain
Learn to notice environmental cues that encourage overeating at Christmas. Realize that what you put in your mouth has more to do with how you are feeling emotionally than with your hunger level. Keep your emotions in check and question why you are eating what you are eating. Christmas weight gain can be avoided with mindful eating and a heightened level of awareness. If you don’t already keep a food journal, start one during the holidays and mark down when you eat and why. Use portion control to enjoy a few of your favorite treats, but be aware of foods that cause you to overeat and avoid them at all cost.
Enjoy the Holidays without Relying on Food
If your goal is to lose weight during the holidays, or even maintain your current weight, the key is to enjoy time with family and friends without overeating. Doing so means remembering the past and thinking about loved ones without using food. Instead of baking Grandma’s favorite cookies, create a special ornament for her and hang it on the tree. In place of making huge platters of food for holiday meals, try using a smaller plate and hosting a less-fortunate family. Forgo the annual holiday baking night with an ornament decorating party. Use your creativity to come up with fresh ideas to honor the past without using food to remember it or to cope with the loss of loved ones.
Bouchez, Colette. “How to Beat the Holiday Weight Gain Odds,” WebMD. Sept. 28. 2011.
Haupert, Tina. “7 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain,” weightloss.health.com. Nov 22, 2010.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.