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Yes, yes and yes…and here’s why

Why is it so hard to say NO to all those cakes and cookies over Christmas? Why do we keep reaching for “just” one more, when we know very well we don’t need it, and we’ve already had too much?

The answer is: It’s Christmas! It’s as if this holiday justifies all our bad decisions and gives us the perfect alibi to eat whatever the heck we want 24/7. I’m at fault. I’ve done the same the past week or so. Why? For the very pure reason because it was okay. It’s what this is about, right? We spend time together, show our love and…. wait for it — eat….a….lot…

Nine out of ten people I’ve talked to told me they felt bloated, their clothes were uncomfortable and they should not have eaten that much. Should they now? Yet if we turned back the clock, they wouldn’t have changed a thing. They couldn’t. With family comes food and the bigger your family is, the more food there will be.

Mothers and grandmothers cook and bake their specialities and favorites that are unique to this time of year. And, they always cook way more than what’s enough, so we always eat way more what would be enough. (I’m sure that 40% of wasted food peaks during the holidays).

Along the way, somewhere between December 24 and New Year’s Eve, we realize that jeans don’t fit, shirts are too tight and the dress we planned to wear for the NYE party is most likely staying in the closet.

Consequently, beneath all the festive and happy mood lies shame, regret and guilt, even if we don’t admit it. Hence most people who start a weight-loss resolution or some sort of detox plan January 1, make that decision sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

How we feel though is much worse than how we actually look and how much weight we have gained.

High-energy dense meals, sugar-dense foods, bigger portions and social encouragement paired with less physical activity and lower water consumption affect both the body and the mind. And the same way the sugar-high and food coma are temporary, that holiday weight gain and mood swing as well.

Our body registers those excess calories as excess energy and stores the leftover carbs as glycogen in our muscle tissue, making those jeans feel tighter, giving the impression of weight gain. Plus, the excess sodium makes our body retain more fluids, causing bloating. It’s not fat, however, and as soon as you go back to your usual eating pattern, you’ll shed the extra pounds.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Obesity found that the average holiday weight gain is hardly half to two pounds.

The key here, of course, is getting back on track. Once your physical activity and water intake increases while food caloric intake decreases, you’ll let go of that water weight and be able to fit back into your jeans by the end of January.