Who doesn’t love the crescendo of this merry time of year, with all its commercialized cookie cutter Christmas spirit? It’s a time of friends, family, and peace on earth. It’s also a time of indulgences which we write off as collateral damage for next year. After all, what are New Years resolutions for, if not #dealing?
While I simply adore the holidays, I used to experience a slight anxiety at the inevitable weight gain to come. Despite my best intentions, the never-ending sparkling goodies were just so tempting. While perhaps this was great motivation for the new year, I’ve since learned a few little secrets which ridiculously minimize pounds attained, allowing you to have your eggnog and drink it too!
1. INTERMITTENT FASTING
Though I already talk about it 24/7 and practice it daily, a bit of intermittent fasting can be a godsend at the holidays, allowing you to indulge in epic holiday feasts with minimal (if any) consequences. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating in which you restrict the hours that you eat each day, rather than the amount of food you eat. By entering the fasted state on any given day (which occurs around 12 hours after your last meal), you convince your body to start upregulating body fat for fuel. When you do eat, your body is much more insulin sensitive and adept at nutrient partitioning, meaning less unnecessary fat storage! In fact, you may just pig out and lose some fat! (Check out How To Easily Burn Fat With Intermittent Fasting!) And “calorie” wise, if you choose to only eat one epic gourmet dinner on Christmas Eve, your net consumption for the day is likely gonna be OK. You’d have to eat A LOT to equal eating all day. Surprisingly, you’ll also be less likely to overindulge. (See Intermittent Fasting Fears: Will I End Up Overeating?)
2. FILL UP FIRST
Before reaching for tempting holiday goodies, even if Paleo, consider filling up on satiating protein, fat and veggies first. Embrace that turkey like there’s no tomorrow. Use treats as the garnishing final touch.
3. NO WHAT THE HELL EFFECT!
I don’t particularly like the phrase, “what the hell,” but it encompasses a huge roadblock in holiday dieting. This one is huge. No matter what happens…. No matter how many calories you consume or cake you savor…. No matter how many times you return to the cheese tray with your wine in hand… do not embrace the “what the hell effect.” It is sneaky, cunning, seemingly logical at the time, and utterly pointless in the end.
The What The Hell Effect refers to that moment you decide you’ve already done so much damage food consumption wise, that you might as well go big or go home. You’re like, Well, I already ate 3 cookies SO MIGHT AS WELL FINISH THE TRAY. And then you’re like, Well, I already ate the tray, so MIGHT AS WELL finish off the cake, cheese dip, ice cream, turkey, and wine!
The only circumstance I can think of where the What The Hell Effect might be useful, is if it literally happened once, you boosted your leptin and quelled your appetite, and found yourself further motivated in a shining future, sans repercussions. But that’s likely not gonna be the case. Rather, you’ll probably embrace the What The Hell Effect, and wake up the next morning in a state of regret. While you can definitely pick yourself up and start anew (gotta love the ever bright potential of the future!), it’ll be so much easier to recover from a mere slip rather than an avalanche. And besides, if you broke your arm, would you be like WELL MIGHT AS WELL BREAK MY WHOLE BODY NOW! Doubt it.
So when the What The Hell Effect demon whispers in your ear, just say No! Say to Mr. What The Hell Effect, “Actually, I’m good with what I’ve had, thank you. And eating more will actually just make me feel worse, not better. I think I’ll talk to friends and family and play games instead. K bye!”
4. LOW CARB >OR< LOW FAT
This might seem a bit scandalous coming from me, but it’s something I’ve been toying with more recently, especially after listening to all of Stefani Ruper and Noelle Tarr’s Paleo for Women podcasts. Basically, choosing to go either low carb or low fat can minimize calories stored as fat. While I’m ultimately an advocate of the weight loss/health benefits of the low carb approach, one cannot deny that people lose weight on low fat diets as well (though they’re often more hungry in the process, and possibly nutrient lacking.) Filling up on protein and then choosing either carbs (oh hey fruit!) or fat (oh hey cheese!) may minimize damage. If that’s too difficult, just considering avoiding highly palatable carb + fat combinations. This is the ultimate recipe for weight gain! Cheesecake = no bueno.
5. EMBRACE MINDFULNESS
Ok, this one sounds kinda cheesy, but it is pivotal. Dare I say, it may even be the most important point on this list! Cultivate an ethos of gratitude with holiday festivities. Eat the yummy food out of a spirit of thanks, rather than gluttony. What would happen if you viewed this time as a time of nourishment, rather than temptation? You could eat delicious food for health, even at the holidays. And while food is often a main feature of a get together, it is not the main attraction. In my opinion, such titles are reserved for the fellowship of friends and family. So make your choices about how you’re going to eat, and then just enjoy yourself. Christmas is a time for love, joy, and peace, not diet anxiety.