Seasonal Weight Gain: A Balanced Approach to the Holidays

What is seasonal weight gain?

Seasonal Weight Gain: A Balanced Approach to the Holidays is a term used when someone gains 5 or more pounds during the winter months (December through February) and loses them back in the springtime (March through May). This type of weight gain occurs due to hormonal changes that occur during these times. These hormones are known as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is released by fat cells while ghrelin is produced by your stomach lining. When leptin levels increase, it causes you to eat less. When ghrelin levels rise, it causes hunger to decrease.

How common is seasonal weight gain?

It’s not uncommon for people to gain or lose weight throughout the year. However, there are some individuals who have higher rates of gaining and losing weight than others. Some studies show that up to 50% of women will experience at least one episode of binge eating during their lifetime. Other studies show that up to 40% of men will experience at least one episode of binge eating during their lifetime. Both of these figures indicate that there is a significant amount of people out there who suffer from binge eating disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder (BE) is a mental health condition characterized by recurrent episodes where an individual experiences intense feelings of emotional distress caused by overeating, particularly food cravings. During these episodes, people don’t feel like they have control over the fact that they are overeating. Other symptoms of binge eating disorder include feeling disgusted by your own behavior, extreme guilt and depression after overeating. People who suffer from binge eating disorder will also go to great lengths in order to hide their disorder.

What are the causes of binge eating disorder?

There are many factors that can influence binge eating such as genetic and psychological reasons. One of the major factors that cause binge eating disorder is having a negative self image. Someone who views themselves in a negative manner are more likely to engage in disordered eating habits such as restricting and purging. People with a negative body image may also be at a higher risk of binge eating disorder.

What are the symptoms of binge eating disorder?

People with binge eating disorder will most likely experience recurrent episodes of binge eating where they will uncontrollably eat large amounts of food. Each episode will last for a period of 2 days or more. During these episodes, the person will also feel unable to stop themselves. During a binge eating episode, a person with this disorder will eat a lot more than a normal sized meal and the food choice is not limited to just one type, such as only high calorie foods.

Binging can lead to various physical complications such as Irregular Heartbeat, High Blood Pressure and severe Weight Gain. These physical complications can lead to further mental problems such as low self esteem and depression.

Binge eating can also lead to social problems such as isolation and withdrawing from family and friends. During the binge eating episodes, a person can feel embarrassed about their behavior and as a result, they won’t tell anyone about it.

How is binge eating disorder treated?

Binge eating Disorder is generally treated with therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are also certain medications that can help reduce the symptoms of binge eating such as Naltrexone and Reboxetine.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is used to treat people with binge eating disorder. This form of therapy will help you to change your thought process and how you react to certain situations. During this treatment, the therapist will ask you to keep a food diary in order to identify what situations or thoughts lead you to binge eating. Once these causes are identified, you can learn ways to better cope with these situations.

Some people with binge eating disorder may also experience symptoms of depression. These people may be prescribed antidepressant medications such as Nardelxone or Reboxetine. These drugs help to normalize brain chemicals which can help to reduce symptoms of depression and in some cases binge eating.

What is key to treatment is seeking help and making changes. It’s important to seek treatment for binge eating disorder so that you can live a happier and healthier life.

What is bulimia?

Bulimia is when a person suffers from binge eating and then engages in some type of behavior to prevent themselves from gaining weight such as purging, fasting, excessive exercise or a combination of these. Purging is the most common behavior among those who suffer from bulimia and is done in order to prevent weight gain from binge eating.

Purging is done by inducing vomiting, taking laxatives or using enemas. Some people with bulimia will also use diuretics or exercise for long periods of time in order to prevent weight gain. These methods are usually done secretly so that other people don’t find out about the bulimia.

Bulimia is classified as a psychological disorder and those who suffer from it have an ongoing obsession with their weight and appearance. Those who suffer from bulimia may see themselves as overweight even though they are of a healthy weight.

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A person with bulimia will typically go through periods of binge eating followed by periods of purging. A bulimic episode can last for several weeks or even months and a person may feel very guilty or ashamed after the event. During these times, a person may also experience symptoms of depression and have low self esteem.

Bulimia can have very serious complications if not treated. Some of these complications include stomach problems, irregular heart beat, electrolyte imbalance and in serious cases, death.

Who gets bulimia?

Bulimia is more common in women than men, but it is starting to become more common in men due to changing attitudes of the ideal male body. There is currently no real known cause for bulimia but there are certain factors that can put a person at risk. These factors include:

Genetics – Those with family members that have suffered from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia are more likely to suffer from one themselves.

Heredity- There is some evidence that there may be a link between bulimia and serotonin production in the brain.

Physiological problems- There are certain medical conditions that can cause a person to develop bulimia such as diabetes, hypothyroidism or adrenal problems.

Psychological problems- There are many psychological factors that can contribute to bulimia including stress, anxiety, depression or poor self esteem. These can be caused by various events such as bullying, sexual abuse or even a death of a loved one.

Extremely tight dieting- Some women may begin dieting in order to achieve an unrealistic body image that is portrayed by the media. Some may also diet in order to compete in sports that have strict weight divisions. This type of dieting is extremely dangerous and can cause a person to develop bulimia.

Drug and alcohol use- There is evidence that those who misuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to suffer from bulimia due to the effects they have on the brain.

Some of these risk factors can be combined. For example, a person may have a family history of bulimia along with a physiological problem such as diabetes.

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Bulimia can affect anyone of any gender, race and age. It is most common in teenagers and young adults but there are cases where bulimia develops later on in life or even in childhood.

What are the symptoms of bulimia?

The main symptom of bulimia is binge eating followed by some type of purging. A person with bulimia may experience a variety of symptoms related to the purging methods they use. These can include:

Swollen salivary glands

Tooth decay and erosion from constant exposure to stomach acid

Damaged tooth enamel from exposure to stomach acid – Those with bulimia who vomit may suffer from a condition called “pipe neck” caused by the acid burning their skin. This can result in a person’s neck swelling up which gives them a distinctive “swan like” appearance.

Sources & references used in this article:

Avoiding holiday seasonal weight gain with nutrient-supported intermittent energy restriction: a pilot study by SP Hirsh, M Pons, SV Joyal, AG Swick – Journal of nutritional …, 2019 –

Effects of exercise during the holiday season on changes in body weight, body composition and blood pressure by JL Stevenson, S Krishnan, MA Stoner… – European journal of …, 2013 –

Relation between holiday weight gain and total energy expenditure among 40-to 69-y-old men and women (OPEN study) by CM Cook, AF Subar, RP Troiano… – The American journal of …, 2012 –

Effectiveness of a brief behavioural intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period: randomised controlled trial by F Mason, A Farley, M Pallan, A Sitch, C Easter… – bmj, 2018 –

4 Ways to Avoid This Holiday Season Weight Gain by A Secret –

School year versus summer differences in child weight gain: a narrative review by T Baranowski, T O’Connor, C Johnston… – Childhood …, 2014 –

Chronic sleep deprivation and seasonality: implications for the obesity epidemic by G Cizza, M Requena, G Galli, L De Jonge – Journal of endocrinological …, 2011 – Springer

Monthly Archives: November 2014 by AHW Gain –

Seasonal cycles in food purchases and changes in BMI among South Africans participating in a health promotion programme by R Sturm, D Patel, E Alexander… – Public health nutrition, 2016 –