Shortly after Halloween Day passes, I start to notice changes in friends and clients’ eating behavior. Suddenly, they become more concerned (and rightfully so!) about the upcoming holiday season and associated potential for weight gain and vow to cut out sugar and/or not eat a lot. The holiday season is not an ideal time to ‘lose weight’, as there are many temptations. While it’s fun to indulge in a few homemade calorie-dense foods, it is a time where you can still maintain a healthy immune system. Engaging in intermittent fasting for a healthy body can help mitigate some of the damage indulgent foods can have on your body.
5 Rules for Fasting During the Holiday Season
Intermittent Fasting (IF) involves unrestricted eating within a certain time window and not eating and drinking when in ‘fasted state.’ During the ‘fasting window’, beverages which do not illicit insulin response/affect fasting – such as black coffee, herbal tea, and water, are allowed.
Rule #1: Don’t fast for weight loss!
Aiming for weight loss during the holiday season can feel self-defeating. Emotions are elevated this time of year with additional stressors of shopping and party planning. Fast for health benefits – as discussed here.
Rule #2: Don’t use fasting as a license to eat junk food (Keep a healthy diet intact!)
Eating a serving of mom’s homemade apple pie or enjoying a few glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve may be something you’d like to enjoy, but don’t fill up on processed carbohydrates and other energy-depleting sugary foods. Be mindful regarding your food and beverage choices. Make healthy green salads and nutrient-dense soups part the majority of your caloric intake.
Rule #3: Drink plenty of water.
Water is the element which flows nutrients throughout the body. Drink at a minimum your body weight (in pounds) divided by 2. For example, a 150-pound woman or male should drink at least 75 ounces per day. Drink more on the days you are consuming more caffeine and sugar, as these can dehydrate the body when consumed in high levels.
Rule #4: Plan fasting windows ahead of time.
Got a holiday party on Saturday evening? Clear out your system the day before and give your digestive system a break before you engage in more indulgent drinks and meals at parties. Stop eating Friday evening before at 4 pm and eat a solid breakfast on Saturday at 8 am. Eat a healthy lunch at 12 pm and then enjoy the evening’s food delights.
Rule #5: Don’t obsess over fasting.
Fasting has benefits, but if you become overly concerned with ‘eating windows’ and what you are eating and drinking, it can detract from health efforts and could result in disordered eating.