Maybe you feel a little nervous about the Christmas Holidays season or your much awaited and deserved vacations because you know there will be some late nights, too many drinks, and indulgences on delicious foods… If you are dealing with adrenal fatigue or weight loss resistance, going into a festive time can be a little anxiety-inducing.
Or maybe you have done a lot of great progress lately in changing your nutrition and lifestyle habits as well as achieving some significant weight loss and you fear that you might take a step back during this time?
If you take time to think about the upcoming time off, you can certainly come up with a plan that will mitigate the damage and help you enjoy this holiday with minimal guilt.
In this post, I detail my 3-point strategy to survive a holiday. Moreover, I give you my tips to deal with overeating, indulgences, and excess alcohol.
The bulletproof plan
Let’s discuss some strategies that might help you enjoy the many festivities without worry, guilt, or apprehension.
I want you to look at your calendar for the next two weeks and write down, yes, write down, all the events that are planned for that time in chronological order. All the friends’ parties, family gatherings, and other festive activities.
Then, circle the ones that you are most excited about and looking forward to. For these activities, plan, yes plan!, that you will enjoy yourself and indulge a little, and inevitably diverge from your good nutrition and lifestyle habits. Assume and own it! BUT, decide to which extent? 1, 2, 3 glasses of wine? One tasty happy and one delicious dessert?
It is your choice how much you want to indulge, but once you decide, again, assume and own it! That means that you take the worry, guilt, and apprehension out! No such feelings should be involved when thinking about the events you circled and after you attended it.
For the other events that are not so exciting to you, then decide to keep to good nutrition and lifestyle habits. Even if you are eating out or at someone’s place, you can decide to drink sparkling water with a lemon wedge, have a decent serving of the protein option, lots of vegetables, and a reasonable amount of starch. You are not depriving yourself, but you are making healthy choices.
During these events when you decided that you would stick to good nutrition and lifestyles habits, remind yourself of the events where you will get to indulge! Know that you will indeed eat that dessert, drink a bit too much, and get a second serving at some point, just not at this time.
On the same piece of paper, answer the following questions:
Why did you started this healthy journey in the first place?
How did you feel before?
What was it like every day?
How are you feeling now?
Are you daily efforts worth it?
Remind yourself how you feel when you have too much sugar, indulge in gluten-containing foods, drink in excess, go to bed late, skip the gym, etc. It is awful eh? Will it be worth it?
Once you answered these questions, keep the page somewhere you can refer to prior to going to a festivity. Re-read your reasons for implementing healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits and being consistent with it day after day.
Tell your spouse, best friend, sibling, coach about your intentions for the Holidays season. Say out loud that you are committing to keep your healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits for the whole month, but are going to allow yourself a “break” at these events. Mention which events specifically.
If you are going to be at these events with that person you will be sharing with, then ask that person to remind to you your commitments and your engagements. You can be as specific as demanding that person to remind you that, for example, after 2 glasses of wine you voiced that you were going to stop. You can be specific with the cues: words or gestures that you both will understand. Think about what you want this person to precisely say or do!
The number of studies that shows the power of accountability in having people follow through with their goals is endless. Hence why people hire coaches. Business coach, sport coach, nutrition coach, life coach, etc., a coach is there to objectively guide you towards achieving your goals, keeping you on track, and troubleshooting any challenges.
Dealing with overeating
Let’s face it! We all know that even with the best intentions, we often end up overeating during holidays! Whether it is the Christmas Holidays or a well-deserved vacations, it often means loosening up and enjoying delicious foods, so it is impossible, and probably forbidden!, to restrict ourselves strictly!
Here is what I suggest during your holiday to reduce the consequences of overeating.
Even if it is for only a few minutes, doing a Tabata-style workout at home, shoveling snow, or attending a group class, make sure you sweat on! That energy expenditure will compensate for the extra calories taken in!
Everytime that you have the opportunity to resort back to your normal eating routine, do so! Family dinner? Then make your regular breakfast and lunch and skip your afternoon snack to make room for the feast at dinner!
Peppermint tea can soothe the digestive system after a big meal or a fat-dense meal. Buy peppermint tea pouches and bring it to parties to drink after meals while other enjoy coffee or other hot beverages. Peppermint helps to reduce bloating, gases, and other digestive discomfort!
Dealing with indulgences
During holidays we often encounter some delicious foods and treats that could be made only during a specific time of the year, for example, the Christmas season, or a particular region like when traveling through Asia.
If you avoid it altogether, you may feel that you are missing out! Obviously you might want to enjoy the turkey stuffing and sweet pies that only your mom makes this good every Christmas or eating pad thai made fresh in the streets of Bangkok every day!
So here are a few supplements that will help to deal with indulgences and foods that you are not normally eating be it gluten, dairy, sugar, etc:
Take an extra dose of omega-3 daily to quell the inflammation caused by inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and added sugars. If you usually take 1g of combined EPA and DHA (the actual omega-3s) in the morning, take another one in the evening. That will lower systemic inflammation triggered by foods during this period of the year.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and most of it is found in the gut as it is there to repair the damaged cells of the gut lining. Taking glutamine in the dosage of 5g (usually 1 scoop of the powder form) between meals 3 times a day will mitigate the damage to the gut by irritating foods like gluten, preservatives, additives, among others.
Digestive enzymes are secreted in the small intestine after food leaves the stomach and help in the breaking down of food molecules into absorbable units. If you are not normally eating a certain food, for example dairy, then you might not secrete enough digestive enzymes, in this case lactase, if you are indulging in it. Taking a broad spectrum formula of digestive enzymes at the beginning of each meal will assist in the digestion and lower indigestion symptoms like bloating, flatulence, and stomach aches.
Dealing with alcohol
Christmas Holidays and vacations means loosening up and for some of use, that is often accompanied with more alcoholic beverages than normal!
Here are a few ways to mitigate the effects of an increased alcohol consumptions during these times:
Green tea is packed with powerful antioxidants, which helps to neutralize the potential damage from free radicals in the body. Free radicals are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules creating highly reactive molecules that damages cells and causing oxidative stress in the body.
Green tea’s antioxidants protect the liver from oxidative stress, which would compromise its ability to detoxify the body from alcoholic compounds. So make a two-cup serving of high-quality green tea in the afternoon before going to a party where alcohol will be consumed to support your liver.
Kombucha is a fermented drink containing healthy bacteria (probiotics) that are beneficial to the gut and the liver. Probiotics are necessary for the proper elimination of toxins in the gut. Moreover, increased probiotics intake is shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body. So drink a one-cup serving of kombucha before or after attending an event where drinks are served. Better, find a kombucha made from green tea!
Most side effects of drinking alcohol are due to dehydration because the body’s metabolism to break down alcohol requires water. To avoid the hangover symptoms, add lemon wedges to your water throughout the evening, and don’t forget to consume water ALONG with your alcoholic beverages. Then further add juice from squeezing half a lemon into your green tea kombucha at nighttime before bed!
In the end, holidays are meant to provide fun and relaxing times among spouses, relatives, and friends and it is normal to loosen up our nutrition and lifestyle regimens!
But a well-plan time off and a few strategies to deal with the possible excess of foods and drinks will make the difference in how you feel afterward!
I hope these strategies and tips will found to be useful to you and you can come out on the other side of the Holidays or your vacations with minimal consequences.
In the unlikely scenario that you end up derailing, consider jumping back on the healthy train by joining the Nutrition & Lifestyle Reset Program. I will coach you to implement, once and for all, healthy habits to achieve your ideal body composition, recover a balanced hormonal profile, and optimize your health!