Experts predict holidays will bring ‘stress eating’

  • By Megan K. Scott Associated Press
  • Monday, December 15, 2008 5:42pm
  • Life

NEW YORK — Beth Dunn is taking a scale break. Judi Moreo is shelving her Jenny Craig meals. And Thea Lobell is relaxing her fried food rule — at least for the time being.

“I’m making fun choices, and I’m enjoying it,” said Lobell, 39, a professional speaker in Baton Rouge, La. She wants to lose 60 pounds.

“I’ll be ready to buckle down when it’s time to buckle down,” she added.

Holidays are often associated with parties, goodies and the inevitable weight gain. Studies show Americans gain about a pound during the winter holiday season, and for many of them, the pound never comes off.

But with many Americans stressing about their personal finances and the down economy, researchers predict more holiday bingeing than usual this year. And, they warn, that’s going to catch up with them in the new year, even if they do try to get back on a healthy plan.

The holidays are a prime time for “stress eating,” said Madelyn Fernstrom, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Weight Management Center. Worries over family and presents and the greater availability of food make stress eaters vulnerable.

“And sweets and fats are what people always grab when they are stressed,” says researcher Adam Drewnowski, director of the University of Washington Center for Obesity Research in Seattle.

Andrea Gulley-Robinson, of Rio Rancho, N.M., said she has been reaching for the chocolate and sour cream and onion potato chips because of economic stress.

The 41-year-old resort sales manager is not making her quota at work, and her income has taken a hit because her husband is a car salesman and works on commission.

Gulley-Robinson, who is maintaining an 85-pound weight loss from a diet supplement, said she tries to work out harder to balance out the extra vending machines trips. But it’s not easy.

For some people, stringent eating plans don’t work during the holidays.

Dunn, 37, of Mays Landing, N.J., author of the novel, “Social Climbers,” sometimes attends four or five parties a week. She normally adheres to a strict vegetarian, low-carb diet but allows herself to eat what she wants, no seconds and no dessert, during the holidays. She also takes a break from exercising — and the scale until the new year.

“This is the only time I’m like this,” Dunn said.

While dieting breaks during the holidays are only natural, Fernstrom cautions against the “Thanksgiving to Jan. 1, I might as well forget it” idea. Someone in a caloric no man’s land for six weeks will have a hard time getting back on track, she said.

“The new thinking is you have to pay attention,” she said. “Otherwise, you will do tons of mindless eating. You will lose control and gain several pounds.”

She recommends dieters work to maintain weight loss as opposed to losing during the holidays and then pick up the pace in January with a little more structure.

That’s what many dieters say they are trying to do.

More in Life

‘Last Jedi’ is the best ‘Star Wars’ movie since the first one

This instant-classic popcorn movie makes clever references to the past while embracing the new.

Jesse Sykes brings her evolving sounds to Cafe Zippy in Everett

She and Phil Wandscher make a return trip to a club that she values for its intimacy.

Red wine usually costs more, but you can still find bargains

Here are five good-quality reds that won’t drain your grocery budget.

Beer of the Week: Skull Splitter and Blood of My Enemies

Aesir Meadery of Everett and Whiskey Ridge Brewing of Arlington collaborated to make two braggots.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Ugly Sweater Party and Canned Food Drive at Whitewall: Marysville’s Whitewall Brewing… Continue reading

Student winners to perform concertos with Mukilteo orchestra

This annual show is a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association.

‘Ferdinand’ a modern take on the beloved children’s story

The lovable bull is back in an enjoyable but spotty animated film from the makers of “Ice Age.”

Playwright alleges misconduct by Hoffman when she was 16

A classmate of Dustin Hoffman’s daughter says the actor exposed himself in 1980.

Art mimicks reality in engrosing ‘On the Beach at Night Alone’

The Korean film tells the story of an actress recovering from an affair with a married director.

Most Read