Avoid a January Mood Swing

Mary Lou Block standing in Gothenburg Health

Avoid a January Mood Swing

By Mary Lou Block, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


We get in the holiday mood as soon as the calendar turns to December, but the mood changes when we step on the scale January 1.  If this happens to you, make it your mission to approach Christmas and New Year’s celebrations differently.

Something to think about:

Typical weight gain during this season is 2 pounds.  This may not sound daunting, but research shows that holiday weight gain typically comes to stay.  This can add up to be a significant weight increase over the years.  So why not strategize to avoid it?  Here are some simple ideas.


  1. Bypass the candy bowls on the desks of your co-workers. 

Let’s face it, things like Christmas-wrapped Hershy Kisses are available throughout the year.  Save your calories for events, traditional foods, and homemade treats.


  1. Want to avoid cravings?   Arm yourself with protein snacks and plenty of water. 

Protein helps regulate blood sugar, avoiding erratic blood sugar highs and lows.   Erratic blood sugar stimulates cravings and magnifies temptation.  Keep protein snacks handy to ward off these cravings and temptations when you pass by a sugary Christmas treat. 

Hydration is a craving cure because dehydration can be perceived as hunger. Are you craving (hungry for) a snack? Drink a full glass of water, wait 5 minutes, and then re-evaluate. 

  1. Going to a potluck? 

Take something you will be able to eat and remain true to your nutrition goals. e.g., a relish plate or leafy green salad is always a welcome addition to a table of Christmas treats.

4)  Going to a party with a table of treats? 

 Employ a tasting menu strategy.  Eat only three bite-size portions of any one food.  Think something like this:

            Bite 1: “Hello” to the food.

            Bite 2: Confirm what Bite 1 told you.

            Bite 3: “Good-Bye” to the food.

  1.  Afraid you are going to take in too much this month? 

Consider intermittent fasting or time restricted fasting during the month of December.  It might go something like this:

-Push back breakfast to a later time and eat only during an 8-hour window, avoiding late night snacks.  Do this for 3-5 days/week.

-Do a 24 hour fast one day/week.  Here is an example:  Stop eating after lunch and don’t eat again until lunch the next day.

What advantages does a holiday eating strategy offer besides weight control?

  1. Takes away guilt, discouragement, and frustration that happens after you overeat. 

  2. Heightens the pleasure of the food you are tasting.

  3. Helps you “be present” in the moment to enjoy relationships and experiences above food. 

These things are all a win for your health journey in 2024.

If you are looking for a new and interesting holiday menu keeping in line with healthy eating, I put one together.  The menu and recipes are loaded with flavorful, nutrient dense foods that are beautiful and low in carbs.  This resource is available at the front entrance of Gothenburg Health or by emailing me at mblock@gothenburghealth.org.

Enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Day, everyone. May your days be merry and bright…without a January mood swing in sight.

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