Did you know that the average American consumes between 3,500 and 4,500 calories during a big holiday meal and during the course of all the feasting between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the average person gains about eight pounds.
I’m not going to preach to you about not eating the once-a-year treats, although I can show you plenty of substitutes to avoid the up-and-down energy levels, and potential fat gain. (Refer to my Sugar Is Bad blog and Sugar Crash video).
Here are my top 3 tips to allow you to eat, drink, be merry and stay lean during the holiday season.
1. Fast First
The easiest way to balance the oops-I-did-it-again holiday overeating is with some fasting. (If you watch my “Longevity” workshop, you’ll know that fasting is an important part of giving our bodies a break and preparing for digestion.)
Fasting anywhere from 14 to 24 hours leading up to the big meal can help you burn some fat, reset your palate so you enjoy your favorite foods even more, and create some caloric wiggle room so you can say “yes” to slice of pie. All you have to do is eat an early dinner the night before, skip breakfast, maybe say no to lunch, and THIS IS IMPORTANT, stay hydrated.
To make it easier, you can drink some black coffee or hot tea during your fast. I suggest decaffeinated organic coffee or tea. This will help you metabolize a little more fat, keep your energy levels up, and keep your appetite down.
2. Exercise Pre-Meal
Squeeze in a workout at the gym, a vigorous walk, or yoga class prior to your feast to prime your body. This will help turn any excess calories into muscle-building rather than fat gain, not to mention giving you more energy. A 20-60 minute workout that combines some reasonably heavy strength training and medium to high-intensity cardio will prime your body for eating.
To make it easier, fuel your workout with a high-quality essential amino acid supplement, which will help you stay focused, energized, and help you maintain muscle while working out in a fasted state.
3. Manage Your Blood Sugar
Most fan-favorite holiday foods are loaded with sugar and likely to spike—and subsequently crash—your blood glucose. Luckily, to stay off the energy roller coaster all you have to do is get in some light physical activity right after the meal. My good friend always takes a 30-minute walk with her family after the holiday meal, before dessert, and it’s a great way to re-energize and help the body with the work of digestion.
There are so many safe and natural sugar substitutes for cooking and baking. Plus you can enjoy chocolate and ice cream without sugar. Some of my patients will serve the gluten free/grain-free/sugar-free treats without announcing it to the family. I’m not encouraging lying to the family, LOL. But if you alter grandma’s recipe a bit, no one really needs to know you used monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar but you!
I also suggest a digestive enzyme before every meal to aid the process since we tend to eat a little more and a few things we may not eat during the rest of the year.
Enjoy your holidays and many will find it is easy to enjoy without sugar! (originally published 12/14/19)