Calm A Holiday
‘Tis the season for sugary temptation treats to be hiding around every corner. To avoid the whole month of December from turning into a food-fest, keep an eye on the white stuff… sugar.
Sugar may add a little sweetness to festive season, but sugar has impact on your body way beyond making your pants feel snug.
Sugar has a ripple effect that can impact your memory, cause your liver functions to go haywire, and make your cells pay a steep price.
Plus, even small amounts of excess processed sugar can cause wrinkles, dark circles, and dehydrate the skin. It can fast track the aging process!
Dessert devotee? If so, this popular podcast episode with JJ Virgin is a must-listen. She addresses the underlying causes of cravings, and explains how to overcome a sweet tooth and kick the cravings for good…
One of JJ’s tips to enjoy some homemade fudge while still minimizing the impact of holiday indulgence is to set boundaries around what you bring into your home. She said…
“This is extra hard during the holidays, but do your best to keep temptation out whenever possible. Otherwise, you create a slippery slope that can quickly sabotage your best intentions.
That festive gift basket full of meats, cheeses, and chocolate-covered nuts? Regift it to a neighbor, your mail carrier, or donate it to a local shelter. The same goes for the tray of cookies your friend dropped off and the box of holiday truffles you got from work.”
Here are JJ’s 6 tips to stay in control over the holidays…
Double up on protein shakes.
I know I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating! Especially on days when you know you’re going to indulge—the office holiday party, your annual family dinner (aka food-fest!), or your bestie’s New Year’s Eve bash—do yourself a favor and double up on your protein shakes earlier that day.
The I-just-won’t-eat-all-day strategy is not the answer. Instead, break your fast in the morning with a breakfast smoothie (try to wait until 9 or 10 a.m.) and then have another protein shake for lunch around 2 or 3 p.m.
You’ll arrive at your gathering with an appetite, but you won’t be so famished that you’re diving fork-first into the crostini with goat cheese and cranberry brie bites.
Sleep well, stress less.
I know this is easier said than done during the most hectic season of the year. But when you’re not sleeping well, you’re depriving your body of the chance to be the best fat burner.
Studies show that not getting enough sleep lowers leptin, the hormone that tells your brain to stop eating. Poor sleep also cranks up your hunger hormone, ghrelin, which makes you more likely to store body fat. (1) Add to that a heaping helping of holiday stress, and you can say good-bye to a good night’s sleep.
Not only can stress crash your sleep, but too little sleep (or poor-quality sleep) in turn ramps up stress levels, creating a vicious cycle. (2) Prolonged stress also fuels inflammation and the risk of serious health issues that go along with it. (3)
To help keep your stress levels in check during the holidays, try simple strategies such as yoga, meditation, aromatherapy (I’m a big fan of lavender oil!), exercising (taking the dog for a walk or getting in a quick burst training routine are two great ways to stay active), spending time outdoors, and gratitude journaling.
Follow the golden rules of meal timing.
What you eat matters, but so does when you eat. In other words, the timing of your meals can either set you up to burn fat or store it away. If you want to be the best fat burner over the holidays and all year long, here’s how meal timing should look:
Start your morning with a protein shake. (Find out how to make the perfect shake here.) Studies prove that people who eat breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day. (4) When you have your morning shake depends on whether or not you’re fasting. If you can, push it until 9 or 10 a.m.
After that, eat every 4–6 hours. Stop eating about 3 hours before bedtime. Have a glass of water before bed if you need to curb hunger.
Keep a food journal.
It can be super challenging sticking to your healthy goals during the holiday season, when temptation seems to be lurking around every corner. Food journaling can help you stay on track and troubleshoot any glitches that come up along the way.
Not only are you less likely to gobble up second helpings at the dinner table or sneak that piece of gingerbread cheesecake if you have to write down, but tracking what you eat may actually help you lose weight over the holidays. In one study, people who wrote down what they ate lost twice the weight as those who didn’t!
Fit in more fat-burning foods.
Some foods and beverages carry impressive research for hitting the “accelerate” button on fat loss. Coffee is a great example!
One review of 13 randomized controlled trials concluded that caffeine intake could support fat loss. (6) Another study found that people who maintain fat loss drink more coffee (and other caffeinated beverages), supporting the idea that coffee might support weight loss maintenance. (7) Just remember that coffee is dose-dependent.to practice moderation: In small amounts—I’m talking 1 or 2 cups a day—the caffeine in coffee can favorably nudge fat burning, but too much can raise stress hormones that put the brakes on fat loss.
Other fat-crushing favorites include green tea, raspberries, flaxseeds, avocado (remember, you need to eat fat to burn fat!), spinach, and coconut, which contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fatty acid that stimulates metabolism to promote weight loss.
“While it’s important to limit saturated fats, it’s equally important that you replace them with good fats—the unsaturated ones—and not refined carbohydrates,” says Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, in Eat Your Vitamins. “MCTs are healthier than other saturated fats and may even help with weight loss, satiety, inflammation, and more.”
One review found that replacing long-chain fats with MCTs could support fat loss. (8) For an added boost, try a little bit of coconut oil or MCTs in your pre-workout coffee.
One final tip: Don’t let the enemy into the house.
This is extra hard during the holidays, but do your best to keep temptation out whenever possible. Otherwise, you create a slippery slope that can quickly sabotage your best intentions.
That festive gift basket full of meats, cheeses, and chocolate-covered nuts? Regift it to a neighbor, your mail carrier, or donate it to a local shelter. The same goes for the tray of cookies your friend dropped off and the box of holiday truffles you got from work.
Out of sight, out of mind!