Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

Study: Dieting = MORE Holiday Weight Gain?

If you’re like me, you’ve been baking up a storm of holiday treats. For many of us, those holiday treats come along with the dreaded holiday weight gain.

I posted 5 general tips back in November for how to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, but today I’m covering a scientific study on how dieting affects holiday weight gain–and what it means for you.

Peppermint bark is always a classic in my house!

The Study

In this study, the researchers looked at how much weight was gained over the holidays by dieters versus normal controls (nondieters). And, more importantly, what kinds of dieting habits these groups had.

The dieters were people who had successfully lost weight in the past and kept it off for years–so they really knew how to diet. Before the holiday, many of them reported having “extremely strict” holiday diet and exercise plans in place: they had solid plans to control their portions, cut out treats, and exercise like crazy. Many of them also lost weight before the holidays to have a safety net in the event of holiday weight gain.

Sounds like a lot of people around November, right?

Not a single one of the 100 nondieters, on the other hand, reported having strict diet or exercise plans. None of them reported losing any weight to prepare for the holidays, either.

So the dieters were completely focused on weight loss, had strict plans in place to do that, and even preemptively lost weight to have a holiday safety net. And the nondieters didn’t care about weight or dieting much at all.

Guess who gained more weight?

The dieters.

During the holiday, the dieters reported exercising much more, and successfully sticking to their strict diet plans. They followed self-imposed rules, like only eating at home and not allowing snacking after dinner. They intentionally stopped eating before they were full, focused on their portions, and weighed themselves more often.

And yet, they gained weight: almost half of them gained more than 2lbs. Only 15% of the nondieters, on the other hand, gained weight.

The kicker is that even a month later, in February, three times as many dieters were still holding onto that holiday weight than nondieters.

But why did this happen?

The researchers found that paying less attention to their weight and dieting over the holidays predicted more weight gain in the dieters. And yet, the dieters were still paying more attention to their weight and diet overall than the nondieters, so that can’t explain why they gained more.

This seemingly paradoxical result really shows how dieting affects you: if you’re used to dieting, then the second you take a break from completely obsessing over your weight and diet plans, you start to gain weight.

My favorite Christmas treat: toffee!

So, what does this mean for you?

The only way dieting really works in the long term is if you maintain complete control 100% of the time, with no binges or overeating or slip ups. And that isn’t realistic. It’s usually more like a cycle of doing well for a little while, then overeating, then trying to make up for it by dieting more strictly, which leads to binging… rinse and repeat.

Dieting just doesn’t work in the long term.

So what can you do?

Be like the nondieters: try intuitive eating (here’s my post on how to do that). Don’t focus on your weight. Don’t make strict diet plans. Don’t impose eating or exercise rules on yourself. Instead, just learn to tune into your body’s signals so you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full–that’s it!

It takes some time to escape from a diet mentality and the cycle of strict dieting and slip-ups, but it is so worth it.

And if you want to lose weight, just focus on eating whole, plant-based foods. (No need to cut out treats though!) There’s a ton of research that shows that eating this way, without any dieting, leads to effortless weight loss.

The holidays should be a time that you can spend focusing on loved ones, relaxation, and self-care. Not a time that you have to spend all your mental energy on keeping up your diet.

 

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Happy Holidays,

Recipes

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Last weekend I got to attend the loveliest holiday cookie party with an awesome group of vegan girls. We had vegan eggnog and peppermint mochas, a cookie contest, a white elephant gift exchange, some of the cutest Christmas decor I’ve ever seen, games, and most importantly, a ton of amazing cookies and holiday treats.

I decided to bring my ol’ faithful cookie recipe: classic chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been making these for years and everywhere I’ve brought them, someone has asked for the recipe–without fail.

So I thought it was finally time I posted it here for you all!

I know a lot of blogs call every recipe “the best ___”, and I haven’t done it before, but I really have heard from a lot of vegans AND omnivores that these are the best chocolate chip cookies they’ve had. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:

  • 2 & 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup vegan butter, melted (I use miyoko’s)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk* (I used soy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

*If using vegan margarine instead of miyoko’s, use 1/4c milk instead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda to a large bowl and stir until combined.
  3. After melting the vegan butter in a medium bowl, add the brown and white sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  4. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and stir until it begins to come together. Add the chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet–I usually get about 20 cookies per batch.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms and edges turn golden brown.

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Recipes

Protein-Packed Vegan Chili Recipe

Today Iโ€™m teaming up with Goode Foods to bring you a recipe that’ll help keep you warm in the cold weather: chili!

Iโ€™ve been eating Thanksgiving leftovers for almost every. single. meal. since we celebrated it last weekend. I guess thatโ€™s what happens when you make 7 dishes for 4 people. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And after all that heavy comfort food, all I wanted this weekend was something veggie packed and oil freeโ€”but still comforting. And this chili fit the bill perfectly!

I also made tofu sofritas to put a fun spin on it and up the protein factor. Itโ€™s so chewy and delicious, and a perfect contrast for the melt-in-your-mouth beans and veggies!

So, thank you Goode foods for inspiring me to make this! Iโ€™m a big fan not only because their canned beans & veggies are delicious and grown by local farmers, but they support veganismโ€”all their products are vegan, and they team up with vegan bloggers (like me!) to get more healthy vegan recipes out there.

Chili Ingredients:

  • Large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 3/4c chopped bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 4 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 – 15oz cans of pinto and black beans (I used Goode Foods: 2 cans black, 1 can pinto–any combo works!)
  • 2 – 15oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15oz can corn (I used Goode Foods)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Chili Directions:

  1. Mince or press garlic (I use this garlic press) and add to a large pot over medium heat, along with the onion. Saute until the onion begins to get translucent, about 3-5 mins.
  2. Add bell pepper, carrots, celery, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika to pot. Saute about 2 mins, or until veggies begin to get tender.
  3. Add the beans and tomatoes to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. You want the veggies to be tender, and the beans to be very soft and start falling apart.
  4. Stir in the lime juice, maple syrup, can of corn, and the tofu sofritas.
  5. Enjoy on its own, or top with vegan sour cream, or cornbread muffins (stay tuned for that recipe!)

Tofu Sofritas Ingredients:

  • 1 block super firm tofu (~400g)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Tofu Sofritas Directions:

  1. Combine nutritional yeast, soy sauce, lime juice, syrup, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Stir until combined.
  2. Using your fingers, crumble the tofu into a large skillet. Pour in the sauce you made in step 1, and stir until tofu is evenly coated.
  3. Saute tofu on medium heat, stirring frequently, until it browns. (The drier it is, the chewier it’ll be in the chili!)
  4. Remove from heat and set aside until step 4 of the chili.

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