What were the stats again? The average weight gain people can expect to experience through the holidays is a perennial media story, and in the U.S., it has generally been said to be seven to 10 pounds. We read a careful research study a year or two ago that sampled people in several countries to see cultural differences. That study put the U.S. and Germany neck-and-neck for Holiday weight gain – at 1.6% of body weight if memory serves correctly – and, surprisingly, Japan exceeded us during a traditional feasting holiday of theirs. It took most people until midsummer to lose the holiday gain, according to these studies.

Well today there’s good news and bad news. For another perspective, let’s turn to the New York Times. Several years ago, the Times reported that holiday weight gain had generally been overstated. They cited “several studies” that concluded a decade ago that the average holiday weight gain in the U.S. was just one pound. There are two important catches to this report – other than the fact that it’s almost 11 years old in an era of epidemic obesity. First, they say people never lost the weight. Second, the average of one pound covered the fact that people of normal weight gained less, and people who already had a weight problem gained more.

No Holiday from Good Health

We bring this up not to spoil the good times, but to ensure that you enjoy many more of them. Growing rates of obesity, with its related Type 2 diabetes and all the threats and complications that come from it, from heart attack to stroke to kidney failure, are reason enough to learn to celebrate without suspending good judgement completely.

Even Country Living can come up with no fewer than 15 healthy recipes that only look indulgent – and they include treats and snacks, too. EatingWell steps forward with a host of festive recipes that keep the traditions, but cut the calories, like fresh ham with red pepper glaze, candy cane peppermint bars, and sugar cut-out cookies.

Why so much about healthy eating? Because diet is second only to smoking as the top preventable danger to our health. But certainly, healthy eating is only one part of healthy holiday gatherings. Stress reduction is another key to enjoying these holidays more, and most of the tips we’ve shared have to do with recognizing and remaining in control of expectations. This holiday, with these circumstances, is the only one we can celebrate now. Let’s not let traditions become judgements.

And driving safely is key. Holiday gatherings call for gathering, so let’s not make the journey more dangerous. Even Santa had a designated driver named Rudolph, they say. Your family, your happiness, and well-being are the focus of our practice.  Just call us at 843-815-6468.