Here's How Much Weight the Average Person Gains During the Holidays

Plus, find out why that extra holiday weight has a greater effect on your health than you might think.

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For many, no matter how strict their diet, all bets are off as soon as the sweet potato casserole comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving. During the six-week stretch between Turkey Day and New Year's, it seems easier than ever to indulge in carbs and sweets. After all, we're surrounded by irresistibly delicious fare and it seems like our relatives love nothing more than heaping another serving (or three) on our plates. As a result, many of us experience some holiday weight gain. But while you may feel like an expanding balloon by the time New Year's Eve arrives, the average person doesn't put on quite as many pounds as you might expect during the holiday season.

According to a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American's weight increases by 0.4 percent over Christmas and 0.2 percent over Thanksgiving. In total, that amounts to around one pound gained during each holiday season. The researchers found that the bulk of this weight gain occurs in the 10 days following Christmas—perhaps hinting at the fact that the cheer of the day throws off people's diet equilibriums until the New Year brings forth more steadfast resolutions.

Although gaining a pound might seem like a small price to pay for your favorite holiday treats, the researchers point out that what makes this particular poundage so problematic is the fact that you're unlikely to lose the extra weight after the conclusion of the holiday season. Translation? Within a few years, all that holiday weight gain will accumulate.

However, if you want to stay in shape between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Milton Stokes, PhD, of One Source Nutrition says that maintaining a proper fitness routine throughout the holidays is an easy way to prevent those pounds from multiplying.

"Unfortunately, many people spend their winters eating a bit more and exercising a bit less," Stokes explains. "If you're consistent in your exercise habits, there's no need to change your eating patterns." In short, if you maintain your exercise routine and eat whatever you want at holiday parties, any added calories will have a harder time sticking to your waistline.

Also, to avoid snacking on the same unhealthy foods after the holidays end, make it a point to throw out all of your leftovers rather than leaving them in the fridge. After ringing in the New Year, the last thing you'll want to face is the temptations of last year!

What it all boils down to is being kind to your palate and your body this holiday season by practicing a mix of healthy habits and tasty indulgences. And once you're ready to shed those extra pounds, read up on The Best Way to Lose Weight in Winter.

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