Christmas – the time of year to celebrate Jesus, family, love, and compassion.
Christmas – the time of year where we see, smell, and taste food wherever we go.
According to Google Trends, January is the month where people worldwide search for the word “diet” the most. It is definitely related to the fact that it’s the first month of the year and to the many people with a “new year, new me” mindset. It is also related to the fact that January comes right after the end of the Christmas holidays, a period where most people, if not all people, have a tendency of eating a lot more than usual.
But why do we eat more during this season?
Christmas holidays are usually full of invitations and gatherings, meaning that we are exposed to big quantities of food. These foods are often high in calories, fat, and sugar.
In addition to the social exposure to food, food industries release exceptional campaigns during this period, persuading consumers to buy the product without hesitation. Other industries are specialized in Christmas products and sell most of their products in December such as Ferrero Rocher and Cote D’Or, which makes us remember them every year around Christmas.
The holidays also mean more free time for a lot of people: students for example find themselves at home for more hours than usual, which can make them eat more, simply because they are bored.
Another reason that makes us eat more around Christmas is actually existent throughout the year: linking food to our emotions. As human beings we have been trained and programmed to associate every intense feeling with a greater consumption of food, whether it is a positive or a negative feeling. For instance, kids are rewarded for good behavior with candy and chocolate; they are also deprived of them as punishment. These same kids grow up to eat more when they are celebrating an achievement, or when they are going through a rough time.
Evidently, Christmas is all about intense feelings and emotions: some people experience happiness and joy, whereas others are sad around this time of year.
What should we do?
- On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, celebrate it the way you want. If it means eating that extra slice of cheese or drinking more wine, then that’s exactly what you should do
- During the holidays, try to keep yourself busy. Don’t spend your Christmas break sitting at home. Plan road trips and activities – do your body and your mind some good
- If you have kids, try to change the way they perceive food: it is a necessity, not a luxury. Do not punish them or reward them with it; maybe that way they can grow up and not associate every felt emotion to a larger portion size
- Exercise… is that too obvious?
In hopes that as of this Christmas, you’ll stop feeling guilty for every bite outside your meal plan.
Merry Christmas and sahtein !
Díaz-Zavala RG, Castro-Cantú MF, Valencia ME, Álvarez-Hernández G, Haby MM, Esparza-Romero J. Effect of the holiday season on weight gain: a narrative review. Journal of obesity. 2017. doi: 10.1155/2017/2085136
Martijn C, Pasch S, Roefs A. Sweet Christmas: Do overweight and obese children associate special events more frequently with food than normal weight children?. Appetite. 2016;96:426. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.10.010.