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Psychologist: Practice ‘mindful eating’ to control weight this holiday season

December 12, 2017

Holiday feasts and colder weather can often mean packing on more pounds during the end of the year, but a strategy of mindful eating could help people to avoid adding extra weight.

A cluster of traditional holiday celebrations can easily become an excuse to suspend our normal eating habits, said Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Susan Albers.

“Research shows that three months around the holidays, we gain the most weight, starting with Thanksgiving, and then peaking at Christmastime, with the 10 days following Christmas as having the most weight gained,” Albers said.

Additional research shows that it can take up to five months to shed those unwanted pounds. Many people add to that accumulated weight each year in what’s called “weight creep,” Albers said.

Albers said holiday stress can cause a spike in the hormone cortisol, which can trigger overeating. Add to that the temptations of treats at every turn, more snacking and mini-meals between normal meal times, and the pounds can begin to add up.

Avoiding the slippery slide requires being more mindful of your daily eating habits, Albers said.

“If you’re someone who is trying to be more mindful during the holidays, stick to your routine,” she said. “It’s really going to help you to maintain your weight during the holidays.”

To keep your weight in check during the holidays, Albers recommended practicing the four “M’s”: movement, mindful eating, minimize stress and mellow out.