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Firstly, I know not everyone reads these articles but for those few who do – I give holiday thanks and even if you only take away 1 piece of information and implement it into your life, or even if I only help 1 person, then I’m doing my job right.
Secondly, I wanted to give you some hacks you can use to help you, not just survive the holidays and its temptations but ALL YEAR! Because, come on, who are we kidding – we don’t just struggle at Christmas! Whether it’s Halloween, Christmas or Summer vacation, there is temptation lurking around every corner. And if I’m being honest —- I give into cravings BUT I utilize hacks I have learned over the years to minimize their damage 😉 .
The winter holidays are a time of cookies, baked goods, and sugar plums, not to mention parties, gift-buying and big family get-togethers BUT so is every other day. Let’s be realistic… and all raise your cortisol (stress hormones), blood glucose levels, play havoc with insulin and inhibit lipase (the enzyme that promotes fat breakdown). I will admit it feels downright rude to decline carbs at a dinner party, wine at a celebration or some of aunt Bessie’s homemade brownies, but they can wreak havoc on your hormones and blood glucose and thus your health and weight loss goals – that’s not to say you can’t have them EVER but do pick and chose your battles this holiday season.
We know that sugar is responsible for a long list of health issues, so I’ve put together a survival guide for the sweetest, most carb-filled temptations. Our goal? Celebrate and live life feeling confident, lithe, and like you’ve not just survived another week without gaining fat, but thrived.
- Defeating cravings – Sometimes when your body craves one thing, it needs another. When your brain tells you it needs sugar, NOW, it may be because of a lack of protein or good fats in your diet. Eat the amount of protein I recommend, which is 0.7 grams of lean protein per pound of lean body mass or load up on good fats like coconut cream and avocado. Another way to cut down on sugar cravings is to stabilize cortisol with 200 mg of Rhodiola once or twice per day.
- Navigate parties – DON’T ARRIVE HUNGRY. Filling up on soup before you go will help you only eat the couple of things you really want to try – instead of gorging on everything. DRINK RED WINE, VODKA OR TEQUILA INSTEAD OF MIXED DRINKS – AND LIMIT YOURSELF TO 1-2 GLASSES. After that, consider switching to sparkling water (drink it out of a wine or champagne glass so it still feels celebratory). If your weight is creeping up, nip it in the bud, and consider taking activated charcoal before you drink alcohol or Food of Unknown Quality (FUQ – for instance, you don’t know if it’s organic or contains GMOs or gluten or in the case of fish, Mercury). Focus on the conversations and people instead of food. Get curious about the people there. Take pictures. Play a game. Dance your heart out. Enjoy the social aspect of parties – its not all about the food xo
- Smart swaps – If every event seems centered on carbs and alcohol, try to change the focus. Switch from a pizzeria to a savvy salad bar. If your friends want to meet for drinks, opt for a walk instead or head to a trampoline park. Escape rooms can be great too! If treats are an absolute must, go with high-quality dark chocolate instead of something high in carbs and low in nutrients. Also switch to nutrient dense snacks rather than calorie dense junk. A healthy festive pot luck can be very helpful.
- Manage metabolism – Blood sugar, stress, and your metabolism are closely tied to one another; if one is off, there’s a good chance the other hormonal process is struggling to keep up. A sluggish thyroid means weight gain, a bad mood, and thinning hair. If you suspect your thyroid is dragging, I recommend the following: Eliminate gluten from your diet as much as possible. If you have a gluten sensitivity or even celiac disease, gluten could be the reason you’re overweight, fatigued, and bloated. Balance your levels of copper (look for a multivitamin that contains it), selenium (22 mcg per day), zinc (less than 50 mg per day), and iron (50-100 mg per day). All are crucial for proper thyroid output. Add vitamin D3 to your daily regimen. The best food sources are liver and low-mercury fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines, and cod. Sunshine is still the best way to get vitamin D.
- Movement magic – Most people see exercise as an integral part of a weight loss strategy. I agree, but I also think that many people use the wrong types of exercise. Intense cardio and high impact workouts actually raise cortisol instead of lowering it – which can lead to weight gain rather than loss. Instead, I always recommend targeted exercises that have been shown to balance hormones and drop pounds. Here are my favorites: Pilates, Yoga, Barre, Swimming, Weight training, Hiking and walking – Aim for 12,000 steps per day. Setting the goal to walk 12,000 steps will increase your movement level every day. Make it a priority to walk after dinner too, this will aid in digestion and studies have shown that those who walk directly after dinner can lose up to 6 lbs in a month.
- Skip the yoga pants – Have you noticed that wearing black yoga pants every day doesn’t keep you honest about weight gain at your waist and hips? Me too. Whether you’re trying to maintain weight or just navigate the holidays, a vacation healthfully or even breaking a larger goal (“I want to fit into my totally hot dress by……..”) into small, concrete goals (“I will wear my jeans – the ones that don’t lie – twice per week for the next four weeks.”) is far more effective. Keep fat burning a priority by reminding yourself daily!
- Create a FOOD CODE – Nobody’s perfect but everyone’s imperfections can be improved. Create your food code now. Your food code is your operating instructions – the rules that you will operate within. Here’s an example of my food code —> “I will eat only in my feeding window, and take 3 deep breaths before each meal.” “When I’m tempted to eat sugar or other refined carbohydrates, I will hit the pause button and ask myself why”. “I will practice movement on a daily basis”. “I will remind myself that I am in control of food, it is not in control of me”.
- Supplements for cravings – The following supplements have been shown to reduce sugar cravings: ● Glutamine 500-1000mg – empty capsule on your tongue when you have a sugar craving. ● 5-HTP – If you choose to use this to help combat your sugar cravings, I recommend you work with a health practitioner. Follow directions on the bottle. 5-HTP must NOT be taken with a prescription antidepressant because of the risk of serotonin syndrome. A typical dose is 50-100mg at night, and twice per day (max 300 mg per day). ● Tyrosine – 1,000 mg/day ● Apple cider vinegar, make sure its unpasteurized and organic, 15-30mls/day
It is also smart to use fasting protocols over the holidays, remember you goals. Enjoy the holidays but do not make things harder for yourself. Above everything, AVOID sugar and vegetable oils and make walking a priority xo