Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

It's the holiday season again, and this means time with family, friends, time for thankfulness, giving, and of course a shit ton of delicous food.

The holiday season is a celebration of food and lots of it.  It's a celebration of your culture and heritage, and for the most part, many of the foods during this time reflect that.

For Xmas, since my family is Swiss, more specifically from Glarus, Switzerland; and my dad's side of the family has a rich tradition in New Glarus, WI, we eat Kalberwurst.  Kalberwurst is distinct from Glarus and is a very rich and fatty sausage.  It is made from veal, milk, ground crackers, and mild spices; and let me tell you they are extremely good, but it can be hard to eat a lot of them because they are so rich.  Then we top it off with huge platters of lasagna, mmmm my favorite.

While we all love this time of year and the food that goes with it, it can also be a time of worry for some.  So today I'm going to give some tips on how to survive this holiday season without worry or fear of weight gain.

1. Workout before hand- The morning or day of Turkey day, Christman Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, or any other day you know you'll be around a ton of good food, exercise  before hand.  Working out will fire up your metabolism and it will make sure atleast some of the calories you eat will be put to use in your muscle glycogen stores rather than being stored for nothing and potential fat gain.

A quick 20-30 minute workout, with emphasis on strength or higher intensity will do.  Lift some weights or lift your bodyweight (push-ups, pull-ups, squat), run some sprints, move around, jump, etc.  Make it hard and make it quick, and you'll be fine.

Don't Have To Get This Crazy,
But Do Something

2. Eat your proteins and vegetables first- We all know we'll make 2-3 rounds at the dinner table, so just make sure your first plate consists of mostly proteins and vegetables.  So load up on the meats and multi-colored vegetables with your first plate, and then on your next rounds you can add that stuffing, potatoes, dinner rolls, sweets, desserts. 

By eating meats and veges first, you start filling your stomach with proteins, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber before you start adding simple carbs.  This will obviously leave less room for those foods.  This also will make sure you have a lower spike in blood sugar levels, allowing for better absorption of all your food, and ensure your getting your allotment of proteins and greens before you stock up on the sweets. 

Ahh ahh, Wait For Seconds

3. Consider using Intermittent Fasting (IF)- IF is basically using a planned fast period to allow your body adequate time to clean, detox, cleanse itself while you eat for a smaller window.  So for most a 14-16 hour fast and 8-10 hour feeding window is usually the best.  So if you know you'll be eating during the afternoon and evening, stop eating the previous night at 8, and don't start eating until noon the next day.  That's a 16 hour fast, so plan out because you can use any time frame you want for this fast-feed window.

This works because of the obvious - you can only eat for 8 hours.  This eliminates 4-8 hours of other meals and snacking that can add on some big calories.  Second, 14-16 hours is for most of us, 4-6 hours more for our bodies our used to without food. This allows our body to use our glycogen stores, "cleanse" itself, spend time on repairing itself/other bodily functions rather than constantly being used for digestion.

4. Drink Lots of Water - The holidays are also a time of drinking for many, and by drinking I mean booze.  That's perfectly fine, but aside from those Miller's and Bud's make sure your drinking a ton of water.  We all know the benefits of drinking water, but drinking lots of water will fill some space up in your stomach, aid in digestion, and also help with carb digestion.  Each gram of carbohydrate you eat needs plenty of water to get transported and stored.  That's why when you eat a lot of carbs you get bloated because they pull water from your cells to attach to each carb, so while it might leave you looking/feeling bloated at first, it will make sure those carbs aren't stealing fluid from other parts of your body and leaving you dehydrated.  The next day your body will thank you from that extra water.

5. Enjoy Your Food- The worst thing you can do is worry/stress about being surrounded by all this great (and yes sometimes unhealthy) food.  Stressing over it will cause more problems than just enjoying the food.  It's not going to kill you and your diet/body will be fine.  Enjoy eating these delicious foods, and enjoy the time spent with loved ones. 

So there you have.  You can have your cake and eat it too.  Enjoy the holiday season and Go Get 'Em!

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