Holiday Food Habits

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It has long been the view of many Americans, especially those with diabetes and other conditions that may present dietary restrictions, that December is the hardest month to stick to dietary guidelines. With so many parties and gatherings, and so many sweet and rich temptations in abundant supply, many people find it difficult to resist the season’s offerings. And according to the results of a recent survey, an increasing number of people aren’t even putting up a fight.

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released late last month, 53% of respondents said they would eat whatever they want during the holiday season because it’s a special time of year. That’s a gain over the 47% of respondents who gave this answer in 2006, and the same number seen in 1996. The age group most likely to indulge was 18- to 34-year-olds, 64% of whom said they didn’t watch their diet during the season; adults age 65 and older were least likely to indulge, at 40%. Among men, 57% gave this answer, while only 49% of women did.

This survey also asked respondents questions about their political affiliation and where they lived, with some interesting results. Republicans and Midwesterners were the groups most likely to try to limit excess eating during the holiday season (41% of each group), while Democrats and rural residents were the least likely to try to set limits (31% of each group). Among all respondents, 23% said they were “very likely” to go on a healthy diet after the holidays, while 38% said they definitely would not. Rural residents were most likely to dismiss the idea of a post-holidays health kick (45%), and adults age 65 and over were also dismissive (43%). Among those most likely to adopt a healthy diet after the holidays were urban residents (30%), 35- to 49-year-olds (27%), as well as Democrats and Southerners (26% of each group).

What’s your position on eating treats during the holidays — do you avoid certain foods completely, or indulge but limit portion sizes? Do you try to avoid or limit the number of events you attend where unhealthy treats are likely to be available? If you belong to one of the groups mentioned above, do you have any theory to explain how its members responded to the survey? Should everyone with diabetes strive for a healthy diet during the holiday season, or could it be helpful to let loose, to boost motivation for the rest of the year? Leave a comment below!

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