Do You Believe in These Holiday Weight Gain Myths?

By Susan Burke MS, RD, LD/N, CDE

eDietsChief Nutritionist

Every year about this time, I hear the same holiday songs. I hear people sing the old refrain of overindulgence -- I have to have it. Whether it's for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or other seasonal celebrations, people have a hard time with holidays and overeating. Some throw up their hands and give in to temptation; others rationalize the holidays as a time in which they are destined to put on pounds.

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1. Everyone gains at least 5 pounds over the holidays, so I may as well accept it.

Well, the good news is that the average American gains from 1/2 pound to 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but the bad news is they don't ever lose it. It's not as dramatic as 7 to 10 pounds that was formerly thought to be the norm, but even if you gain just 1 pound over the holidays, you may also gain another pound over the winter, and maybe one more during the summer holidays. Pretty soon you're on the next pants size and a new wardrobe.

2. I can take a vacation from my diet, because come January, I'll go right back on it.

Don't do it, because you may never come back! I went to a Thanksgiving dinner this year, and saw someone I'd not seen in a year. I congratulated her on her significant weight loss over the previous year, and when she told me she was taking a vacation from her diet for the holidays, I cringed. I told her that you can't vacation from your healthy diet and expect to stay at your goal weight. Extra calories are just what your fat cells are looking for. Unless you've built up a good amount of lean muscle mass by exercising with resistance bands or light weights, you're going to regain the weight as quick as you can say I'll have seconds of pumpkin pie.

3. I'm going to fast all day, so I can eat all I want at the Holiday party this year.

Wrong. Don't do it. Don't put your body in starvation mode. Starving yourself usually backfires, and you wind up overeating at the party. The best strategy for weight control is to eat lower calorie, higher fiber foods such as crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Eat smaller meals more frequently, and when you get to the party, continue to think small. Have a small portion of everything, and that way you're satisfied but not stuffed.

By the way, there are other interesting veggie combinations, such as green beans, onions and mushrooms; Brussels sprouts; broccoli cuts; they come in convenient plastic bags. I just throw them into a Pyrex bowl, cover and microwave on high for about 5.5 minutes. Let the vegetables sit for another 3 to 4 minutes; sprinkle with Butter Buds or other dehydrated butter product for a satisfying snack with only about 25 calories per cup, cooked.

4. I can't diet when I go to someone's house for dinner.

Give yourself the power to say no tactfully. Many people feel that if they don't partake in the holiday feasting tradition, others will perceive them as rude or ungrateful. Well, don't fall into that trap. You have the right to eat what you want, where you want, and in the amount that you want.

Say no in creative ways, and don't feel deprived. You can say to your host, oh, I'm sorry, my plan doesn't include (name the food), but I surely thank you! Or Oh, thank you so much, I'm sure it's wonderful! I'm too full right now, but thanks for asking. Your host cannot insist, and if they do, you have the power to insist that you're grateful, but be firm.

5. My family would miss it if I didn't make the traditional favorites.

Make this a healthy holiday season and change your traditional fatty favorites into delicious, healthy meals. Santa is roly-poly for a reason. Christmas recipes are like stocking stuffers; each dish makes that sock bulge bigger. It doesn't have to be so. Living large is not my New Year's resolution, living lean is. Don't be a Scrooge with taste, but be frugal with calories -- that's how you eat delicious foods without guilt.

Review your recipe file and look at recipes with a fresh eye. Often you'll find high fat and high-calorie items that you can reduce, or eliminate. Reduce the amount of nuts in cookies; replace with dried cranberries or raisins: most recipes can be modified successfully.

You can lose weight and improve your health, but you may have to adopt a healthy lifestyle to accomplish those goals. eDiets now offers The Mayo Clinic Plan, developed by the doctors at the Mayo Clinic. Start today.

eDiets Chief Nutritionist Susan L. Burke is a registered and licensed dietitian and a certified diabetes educator who specializes in both general and diabetes-related weight management.

posted by Diet & Body @ 2:58 AM


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