October's the time for New Year’s resolutions

October’s the new January and the time for New Year’s resolutions might be right around the corner. Let me explain.

According to a new study, if you’re an average American, your weight today is lower than what your scale will display by January, and it will take you five months, or more, to lose what you’re about to gain in the next three.

And this isn’t just relevant in the US. We’re lucky enough to have holidays, with lots of tempting foods and festive eating opportunities. The study, led by Elina Helander, and reported briefly in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed the weight of about 3000 people in the US, Germany and Japan. Thanks to new technology, researchers can now collect objective daily weight measurements without a weigh-in at the office – in this study the data was collected from wireless scales.

Fall weight gain took 5 months to lose

In all three countries, weight rose within 10 days of Christmas, but the joy of festive meals was not limited to December; in each country there was a steady climb in weight around other holidays too. In the US it’s Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving (if you’re Jewish, add several more food-rich holidays, that come one right after the other this October), while in Japan it’s Golden Week (a cluster of holidays in late April to beginning of May) that pack the pounds.

Overall the almost 1800 US participants gained about 1.3 pounds from October to January.

Half of that gained weight stayed put until the summer – and beyond.

So think about it come October. It might be easier to exercise a little bit of control October to December, rather than a lot of control – a diet’s never easy – come January.

A few October resolutions tips

Add veggies and fruit: Fill at least half your plate with veggies, these will load you with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, help lower your caloric intake and benefit your health. When choosing deserts and snacks, look for delicious fruit – not that you can never eat cake, but your sweet tooth may be satisfied with dried or fresh fruit too.

Watch what you drink: Alcoholic and sweet drinks pack lots of calories, and tend to go uncounted and unnoticed. Space caloric drinks (wine, cocktails, beer) with water, sparkling water, or other non-caloric non-sweet drinks. Sugary drinks should be a rare special occasion treat.

You don’t have to eat it just because it’s there: If you really want this special piece of candy, go ahead, but don’t go for it just because someone sent it, or because it’s lying there on the coffee break table. Be mindful!

Enjoy a few non-food celebrations these holidays: It’s not all about food. Go for a walk, play a game, volunteer together, have a tea tasting afternoon – there are many non-caloric, even calorie-burning celebration options to try together in between the feasts.

Have a lovely fall season,

Dr. Ayala

Thanks to the Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab for sharing these study findings and the image above with me.

It might be easier to exercise a little bit of control October to December, rather than a lot of control – a diet’s never easy – come January.