Asa Ernesson at the University of Linkoping in Sweden has done some research showing that brief periods of overeating contribute to long term gains in fat mass - even if weight is lost after the period of overeating. In other words, if you diet to get into that red dress for Christmas, then eat or drink anything that isn't nailed to the flooboards when you are on holiday, you are making it hard for yourself to stay in control of your weight down the line.
We all like to let our hair down on holiday. It's normal to want to let go of all the worries that dog us in the day to day routines of our lives. We overdo the wine and want to sample all those new foods and cool ourselves down with big ice creams without caution. We don't need to concern ourselves with getting up to go to work, feeling fresh the next day. We rush round the supermarkets at holiday times to fill our trolleys with chocolates, fruit puddings and double cream.
I think of this as party-pooper research. It shows us that we will pay for our brief moments of just having a little harmless fun. Even if we flagellate ourselves with diets and exercises after our holidays, the damage has been done.
Well there is it; these findings will not go away. Researchers at the National Weight Control Registry have come to very much the same conclusions anyhow. People who maintain weight loss are those who eat consistenly pretty much all the time and they don't have patterns of boom and bust, feast and fast.
The problem is - how to give this kind of information to my weight loss clients without adding to the disappointment they already feel about having to restrict their favourite foods? What do you think?