I remember having a few Christmases where I gained 3-4 kg in a few days. I was a competitive athlete, training 2 times a day. I thought anything and everything I could eat, I’d work it off. Then it lasted for a couple of weeks after that and my performance dropped. Later, with mindful eating and lifestyle tricks, I managed to eat well and still not have to change my wardrobe, even without extra exercise… Here are some tips to make your life easier during the holidays!
If I want to simplify the explanation of ‘Christmas weight gain’ and ’food comas’, it goes something like this: It’s a time when people tend to overindulge in refined carbohydrate-rich foods (and possibly alcohol as well). For many people, snacking is constant, with no extended breaks between meals, which can trigger a rollercoaster of blood sugar and energy levels, causing digestive problems. In addition, the big ‘binge’ is late in the day, under artificial lights. Ingesting a lot of out-of-season, high deuterium food, which is out of sync with the season and natural light conditions, impairs energy production in the mitochondria, and can lead to temporary leptin resistance.
How to do it smarter?
There are many options depending on the degree of fanaticism.
Moderation. This may not need explaining.
Christmas fasting. Eat nothing, fasting is a healthy habit sometimes anyway. Now that’s something I don’t think many people take on during the holidays ? Intermittent fasting is a friendlier way that works this time of year. So time your meals for a 4-8 hour window of the day.
Ketogenic diet. Meat and fat based meals. If you follow this trend, you’ll have no problems at Christmas, as most classic menus can be eaten without high-carb ingredients. Plus, you can even add some fatty desserts for flavour.
Paleo diet. Focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Do oranges or other tropical fruits grow in winter in countries like Hungary?
Protein and fat-rich breakfast. If you start the day with a protein-rich breakfast (and go outside in the morning), you’ll have less appetite during the day, making it easier to resist tempting sweets.
Dry alcohol. If you do drink, choose dry red wine, shots or other ’pure’ drinks instead of sugary ones.
Cold baths, cold showers. Heating is calorie demanding. If you’re overconsuming calories, why not burn off the extra energy in the furnace (mitochondria) with a little cold power? For beginners, a cold-water facial bath, cold shower, for advanced, go for ice bath.
3. Circadian rhythm
Sunrise watching. Recommended all year round anyway. Morning sunlight is an important appetite regulator because of its effect on our hormones and neurotransmitters.
Evening blue light blocking. For example, candlelight gives us a cozy mood, plus our brains don’t get confused whether it’s day or night.
Early dinner. If you try to eat dinner as early as possible, it will be good for your circadian rhythm, digestion and sleep. Quality sleep is one of the best fat burners.
Sporty Christmas. It’s (also) a good time to go for long walks and hikes outdoors.
Mini workouts. Before or after meals, you might want to do a series of squats or push-ups, so your muscles have a good chance of using up the excess sugar pumped into your bloodstream.
Don’t sit in the chair for too long. Occasionally get up from your chair, move around, walk, do something, play on the floor with the kids.
I hope I’ve managed to introduce or remind you of some easy-to-use practices for big feasts. Of course, some people may not want to consciously pay attention to anything in their lifestyle during the holidays. This can be fine for someone who is mindful of a healthy lifestyle the rest of the year, because a strong body can compensate for many things.
Happy holidays and bon appétit!