Are You Making This One Mistake Over The Holidays?

November 30th, 2017 by Sara Upson

People think that the holidays cause weight gain, but what if I told you it wasn’t true? I know you can find some study somewhere that says people gain weight over the holidays- but that’s correlation not causation. The holidays don’t cause weight gain. What does? Dieting and future perceived deprivation, such as a New Year’s resolution that focuses on weight loss.   Yes, you read that correctly. Planning your new years resolution around weight loss or even weight loss in disguise- such as “get healthy” or “eating better”- will set you up to eat more when food is allowed (holidays) which can lead to weight gain.   It may seem like you diet at the new year because of the holiday festivities and having too much, but it’s actually reverse. You make the mistake of planning to diet or dieting which causes you to disconnect from your body, ignore huger and fullness cues, and leads to overeating.


It’s pretty mind blowing to think about it like that, but the reality is dieting causes weight gain. Think about it- when you know you’re going to start a diet soon, how is your eating different?  If you’re like most people you eat more, you don’t listen to your body because once you’re on your diet you have to be “good.” You know you won’t be able to have the food later so you have to eat it all right now!

The sense of future deprivation (aka dieting) triggers in most people all or nothing thinking. I won’t be able to have this later so I need it all right now. This leads to overeating. Food is more available around this time of the year, so this type of thinking leads to repeated over eating. Yes, you might be uncomfortably full, but it’s justified because your diet is coming soon.


For some people this even creates what Intuitive Eating calls the “last supper” mentality.   With the diet coming soon, you truly believe that this will be the last time that you ever have that food, or that you will have that food in a long time. So you over eat.   And it makes sense. If you truly believed that this would be the last time that you could ever have a certain food, you’d probably eat more of it. I would. Planning to diet in the future- even in the guise of a new years resolution creates the same situation- it reinforces that you can’t have this food again (deprivation) which leads to disconnection and over eating!



When you’re planning your future diet and following this line of logic then you certainly don’t listen to your body when it tells you that you’re comfortably full. Of course you eat until you’re stuffed, uncomfortable, or blah! This pattern of eating can lead to weight gain (however I would like to point out that weight gain is very complicated and not just over eating or a calories in vs calories out equation.) Since this weight gain happened over the holidays then people will say- oh the holidays cause weight gain. But no, the holidays don’t cause weight gain. That’s correlation. Dieting causes weight gain. Future plans to diet cause weight gain. Thinking about your new years resolution over the holidays causes weight gain.


Thinking Oh $*(@)# what should I do? Here’s some ideas:

  1. Don’t diet. Don’t even think about dieting. Instead give yourself permission to eat and enjoy food. Learn to listen to your body.
  2. Read Intuitive Eating, Body Kindness, or Eat What You Love, Love What you Eat.  (These are affiliate links, should you choose to purchase one of these books through these links I will receive a teeny-tiny commission off of the sale.)
  3. Schedule an appointment with someone who can help you move away from diets and change how you think about food, weight, exercise, your body and eating. I’m happy to help, however you can also find professionals across the country here.

You can also get my free guide to rejecting diet culture here.

One Response to “Are You Making This One Mistake Over The Holidays?”

January 04, 2018 at 3:16 pm, Moralizing Food is Hurting The Church | CHARIS said:

[…] cultural standards. She is out. You talk about how much weight you gained over the holidays (side note: holidays don’t make you gain weight, dieting does) and how “bad” you’ve been. Now she has confirmation, she has been bad all her […]


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