Excessive gratitude has no known side effects, but Thanksgiving overeating is a concern that’s on many people’s mind.
In much the same way that a rotation of foods and nutrients are demonized and blamed, (fats, carbs, gluten, eggs, dairy – the villain changes the theme remains the same) Thanksgiving, holidays and celebrations are seen as weight gain disasters.
But just likes gluten can’t be blamed for all that ails us, one or two indulgent meals can’t change your fate or weight by much.
That’s not to say that the heavy feeling – and regret – people have post Thanksgiving isn’t real, and that it isn’t time to approach the overflowing holiday plate a little different.
Holiday weight gain, myth or fact?
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a 6-week festive season, in which office parties, food gifts and cookie displays at the office are interspersed between holiday meals. While one meal can only add so much, 6 weeks can open the floodgates.
A review in the journal Obesity, looked at six studies in adults, demonstrating significant weight gain over the holidays in five of them. In one of the studies following 195 people over 6 weeks, from late November to mid-January, the participants gained an average of 0.8 pounds – which they kept on one year later. Weight gain was even greater in the other four studies and ranged from 1.2 to 2 pounds!
The review examined another six studies of people trying to lose weight, and those fared no better: they gained on average 0.6 to 2 pounds. So even when the intent is to lose weight, even when people are watching their weight, the holiday season stands in their way.
Binges and steady indulgences
It’s interesting to compare holiday weight-gain studies findings to those of studies of overfeeding. In an overfeeding experiment participants were fed 1000 excess calories a day for three weeks. Not surprisingly, the participants gained more than 4.5 pounds. But they lost this excess weight within 6 weeks after the overfeeding experiment ended. Another overfeeding experiment, which lasted 100 days, resulted in greater weight gain – 18 pounds – and although much of the weight was lost when the experiment ended, the participants remained about 3 pounds over their starting point, and continued to gain weight over the years.
Another recent study, had volunteers add 1000 extra calories derived from high-calorie snacks such as chocolate, potato chips and meal replacement drinks to their regular…