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The holiday season is notorious for unwanted weight gain. Although the average weight gain isn’t all that high—1 to 2 pounds—the real danger is that people rarely lose the weight they gain during the holiday season. So, if you go through ten holiday seasons, you’re looking at a very realistic and permanent gain of 20 pounds. But it’s not just the weight you gain. Even if you manage to avoid gaining any weight, the onslaught of sugary foods you’re not used to consuming will play havoc with your blood sugar and insulin levels, leave you bloated and fatigued, and generally make what should be a joyous time a sluggish, low-energy one. Imagine having your full measure of energy over the full holiday season. Imagine putting on a Santa suit and clambering around on the roof and shimmying down the chimney, giving your kids a real show. (Not recommending this literally of course.) Imagine enjoying the winter weather, rather than holing up indoors with a box of cookies waiting for it to pass. One thing I like to do in suboptimal food conditions is use it as an opportunity to fast. If I’m traveling and my choices are airplane food or McDonald’s, I simply don’t eat. If I’m at a hotel where the idea of a complimentary breakfast bar consists of bagels, orange juice, and those tiny boxes of cereal, I don’t eat. Quite honestly, the holiday season is one big block of suboptimal food conditions. Sure, it’s delicious. Sure, some of it is even nutritious, if we’re talking roasts and gravies and veggies and large crispy birds. But the quantity of food we consume and the frequency at which we consume it—combined with the prevalence of delicious treats and the “emotional” context—makes for an impossible situation. It really is the perfect scenario to pack on some mass—or the perfect opportunity to employ an intermittent fast. How should you do it? Are there any tips, tricks, or strategies particular to the holidays that make fasting easier and more effective? Skip Breakfast Breakfast around the holidays can get quite ridiculous. How many of you have done this or know someone who has done this: having pumpkin pie/a half tin of Danish butter cookies/big bowl of mashed potatoes for breakfast? Even if no one is digging into the leftovers (although a turkey leg is a nice way to begin the day), you’ll see the likes of pastries, quiches (heavy on the crust), bagel spreads, pancakes, and waffles, etc. So, just skip it, particularly when treats abound and beckon. You’ll avoid the problem entirely, give your digestive system a rest, keep the fat-burning going, and make any subsequent feasting later in the day more rewarding and less damaging. Have some coffee and cream instead. Heck, you could even whip the cream if you want to feel like you’re having a “treat” with everyone else. Don’t Snack Snacking kills during the holidays. While in more normal times I recommend against constant or absentminded snacking, at … Continue reading “Intermittent Fasting (and Feasting) At the Holidays: 6 Ways to Do It”
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