Many people feel guilty for eating too much, or even dread stepping on the scales after the holidays.
Can overindulging on these special occasions have a negative impact on your health?
Truth is, occasional overeating is unlikely to have a long-term impact on your health – and here’s why.
How holiday overeating affects your body
If you are of average weight and height, you would need to eat far more calories than you burn – probably around 3500 calories (kcal) more than you usually eat – to gain half a kilogram.
This means, assuming your daily calorie intake is 2000kcal, you would have to eat 5,500kcal just to gain 0.5kg in a day.
According to a recent study, most people do gain a little bit over the holiday season – on average, 0.6kg in America and 0.8kg in Germany over the 10-day Christmas period, and 0.5kg in Japan over Golden Week.
Even then, you might probably lose it again quite quickly once you return to your normal routine of eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly after the holiday period is over. This small weight gain is unlikely to have serious long-term health implications.
Bouncing back after indulging
Try not to feel guilty after a couple of weeks’ indulging. Instead, focus on the positive benefits and how much you enjoyed spending time with your family or friends.
Here are our suggestions for bouncing back after a binge:
- Don’t hop straight back on the scales – give your body a few days to settle back into its normal routine.
- Don’t punish yourself by fasting or crash dieting – it will do more harm to your health in the long run.
- Do go for walks or bike rides over the holiday period – not only is it good exercise, but it’s a fun way to spend more time with family or friends.
- Do go back to eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, lean protein and low fat dairy products.
How to enjoy a balanced diet
Everything is good in moderation – even party food!
A balanced diet includes:
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
Essential nutrients in these foods will help your body to function better and boost your immune system.
After the holiday season ends, try and maintain this balanced diet and limit your intake of processed or overly sugary foods such as fast food and fizzy drinks.
If you want help with your eating habits or maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle, you can consult a dietitian.
Article reviewed by Alefia Vasanwala, principal dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Hospital
Balanced Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/balanced-diet#overview1
Cespedes, A. (2017, July 18). Will One Night of Binging Ruin my Diet? Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/471552-will-one-night-of-binging-ruin-my-diet/
Chieh, A., Helander, E. E. & Wansink, B. (2016). Weight Gain Over the Holidays in Three Countries. The New England Journal of Medicine (375:1200-1202).
Daly, A. (2014, October 23). The Maximum Amount of Weight You Could Realistically Gain in One Day. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/one-day-weight-gain
Nitzberg, Jed. (n.d.). Battling the Holiday Binge. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/battling-holiday-binge#1