Regular eating habits combat holiday weight gain

Holiday weight gain is something we all probably are familiar with, as the holidays often mean a break from our regular eating and drinking patterns. The good news is that returning to routines after the holidays is enough to shed possible extra weight gained.

“The holidays are for relaxing. There’s no need to be too uptight about eating, just as long as you return to healthy eating routines after the holidays,” says Adjunct Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology Jyrki Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland.

According to Virtanen, the discussion revolving around holiday weight gain is often short-sighted, as going on a strict diet doesn’t teach people healthy eating habits.

“I’m not in favour of strict diets. Returning to everyday healthy eating habits is enough to bring the weight back to normal in a few weeks’ time. It also helps to eat regular meals, as that reduces the probability of snacking. In weight management, the significance of a person’s diet is greater than that of exercise, although it doesn’t hurt to exercise, either. But the fact is that very few of us are able to exercise enough to compensate for an unhealthy diet. It’s much easier to eat sensibly,” Virtanen says.

Staying well hydrated is important

It’s very important to stay well hydrated when it's hot outside. We may not feel thirsty, especially when spending time outdoors in windy places, such as by a lake or at sea. The wind keeps our skin feeling cool despite the heat, and the feeling of thirst may remain absent even when we are dehydrated. Dehydration causes nausea, tiredness and cramps, among other things. For the elderly and children, dehydration can be dangerous.

“It’s important to drink, but preferably not just water. Large amounts of water can mess with our blood electrolyte levels. It’s a good idea to drink diluted juice or mild sports drinks, or to add a pinch of salt in our water. In addition, watermelon, cucumber and strawberries are also good sources of liquid. For many, the holidays also involve drinking more alcohol than normally, but when it comes to dehydration, alcohol really isn’t a good fix – quite the opposite,” Virtanen says.

When it’s hot outside, many of us lose our appetite. According to Virtanen, maintaining regular meal times is nevertheless important, and he also encourages people to eat more greens.

“Many salads with a bit of protein in them are a good meal alternative when it’s hot outside. It's not wise to wait until the evening and eat a large meal right before going to bed, as that can cause discomfort. Moreover, foods that are extremely high in protein are not necessarily the best alternatives on hot days. Protein-rich foods increase the body’s own heat production, possibly adding to the feeling of discomfort.”

“Another important thing to take into consideration when it’s hot outside is the cold chain and making sure that it doesn’t get broken. In warm temperatures, food goes bad really quickly, and that’s something to keep in mind especially when going on picnics.”

For further information, please contact:

Docent of Nutritional Epidemiology Jyrki Virtanen, University of Eastern Finland, jyrki.virtanen(at)


About Us

The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.


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