NEW YORK — Between pumpkin pies, gingerbread cookies, and an extra helping of stuffing with gravy, half of America has broken a diet due to the temptation of holiday foods. Holiday weight gain is inevitable for many of us who can’t help but to take a second slice of grandma’s pecan pie or another slice of turkey (or three).
The fourth annual “Writing Off the End of the Year” survey explored the eating habits of 2,000 Americans who celebrate a winter holiday. Unsurprisingly, few people can resist overindulging during the festive season — regardless of whether they’re breaking a diet to do so. Americans admit this overindulgence goes straight to wrecking their waistlines, as the average person expects to gain about eight pounds throughout the holiday season.
This is slightly more than in previous years. Last year, respondents expected to gain seven pounds, up from six extra pounds in 2019 and 2018. For four in 10 people, that’s in addition to the weight they gained during the pandemic. Of those, the average respondent has gained a pound more than the “quarantine 15” since March 2020.
Holiday weight gain not a concern for most people
Some respondents aren’t concerned about their weight. In fact, 90 percent plan on enjoying the holiday season without worrying about maintaining a healthy diet. That may be due to stress from the pandemic, which is prompting two in three people to feel they “deserve” more treats this year.
In this year’s survey, 48 percent of Americans admit they’ve eaten so much during a holiday season that they’ve had to undo a button on their pants or loosen their belt. Another 45 percent have eaten more than one of the same meals in a day — such as eating multiple lunches or dinners. Others have eaten until they feel sick, unwell, or full to bursting — or they’ve deliberately worn stretchy clothes to accommodate overeating (both 39%).
“Holiday meals and festive celebrations don’t have to destroy your healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Kent Bradley, chief health and nutrition officer at Herbalife Nutrition, in a statement. “By focusing on eating proteins over carbs, slowing down your eating pace and making sure you don’t go to the party hungry, you can enjoy the party and minimize the weight gain.”
Healthy lifestyle returns in 2022
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) are even actively delaying their attempts to be healthy until after the holidays. Of those, 56 percent begin postponing their efforts by mid-November. That’s up slightly from previous years: in 2020, 56 percent of Americans admitted to postponing attempts to be healthy, compared to 41 percent the year before.
So, when do people return to their healthy lifestyle? Many will pick healthy habits back up after New Year’s. Thirty-nine percent plan to make a New Year’s resolution for 2022, with the top goal being exercising more (27%).
Eating healthier (25%) and focusing on self-care (22%) round out respondents’ top three 2022 resolutions. That mirrors the resolutions from last year’s survey, which revealed exercising more (26%), making healthier food decisions (25%), and focusing on self-care (21%) were the top goals heading into 2021.
“The best and most successful New Year’s health resolutions combine nutritious, balanced diets and exercise, have specific and achievable goals, and activate a community of like-minded supportive people,” adds Bradley.