As a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one this time of year you are at an additional risk of gaining weight by using food as a coping mechanism to survive the holidays. You are also at risk for suffering secondary losses to your health because of the implications to your physical health as a result of your grief.

Find out the good news, bad news and what you can do to focus on healing your heart without the holiday weight gain this year.

The Good News About Holiday Weight Gain!

When health professionals, like myself, talk about holiday weight gain it is often stated that the average person gains 5 pounds during this 6 week period from over eating. That’s 17,500 additional calories eaten, or 585 additional calories every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Ok, that’s not the good news.

The good news is research has found the average weight gain is more likely to be closer to 2.5 pounds for people who are of a healthy weight. Over weight people gain more and do hit that 5 pound mark.

The Bad News About Holiday Weight Gain!

So maybe you’re not gaining 5 pounds this time of year, but the bad news is – The weight you do gain, you’re not losing. In addition, the weight you gain over the holidays is more than 50% of total weight gained year in and year out.

For example – If in the last five years you have gained 10 pounds, more than five of those pounds came directly from the past five holiday seasons. Which means, if you keep it in check over the holidays you are on the right track to maintain a healthier weight over time.

How To Be An Underachiever

In the context of grief recovery it is very easy to overeat and comfort your grief with sugary, high fat foods that appeal to your survival instinct and the need to ‘eat your emotions’ because they are to overwhelming to sit with fully.

Here are my three best tips to avoid weight gain over the holidays.

  • If you bite it you write it. There is no better time to keep a food journal than during the holidays. For grief recovery it’s more important that you keep a record of the emotional connection of eating than it is the calories. Start to see if you can recognize a pattern between when you are eating and your emotional state.
  • Give yourself a time out. When you are at a holiday party or other event where there is copious amounts of food intentionally give yourself a time out from the buffet. Walk away, break the connection between you and the food and check in to see how you are feeling. Ask yourself questions like – Am I physically full? How is my stress level? Am I getting tired? What do I need right now to comfort myself?
  • Always fruit first. When the need for something sweet hits, and it will, I’m a realist, eat a piece of fruit first. This does a couple things: 1. It will often satisfy your sweet craving. 2. It will fill you up so that if you do go ahead and eat a cookie you won’t reach for 4 more. You can also reach for fruit when you are tempted by just one more cookie, or contemplating another slice of pie. If a health choice doesn’t have the same appeal as it’s high sugar/fat alternative, then you’re probably not really hungry, you’re just feeding the beast.

Navigating the holidays after a loss is hard enough, don’t add to your stress by putting on weight that you won’t lose. Over time that weight gain will put you at risk for a myriad of health problems.

In the comments below tell me what part of the holidays is most challenging for you!

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