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3 Simple Holiday Eating Strategies

Fat White Cat
"You guys go on ahead. I'll catch up with you later."

The holidays are knocking at our doorstep, and I’m sure you’ll be ok with nibbling on a disturbingly unsatisfying 400-calorie salted ice cube while everyone else is grubbing down on piles of devious dinner spreads, hitting the open bars, and making some bad decisions under the mistletoe.

Yeah right!

With the restrictions of many diets, how can we ever make it through the holiday season’s work and family parties without suffering, guilt, and the ubiquitous unwanted pounds?

Well, I’m here to share 3 tips to help maintain that hard-earned progress while relaxing and socializing. Oh, and one of these tips allows you to eat most of your calories and carbs at night!

That has a nice ring to it now, doesn’t it?

If not, best of luck with your snack packs and lemon water with cayenne pepper. I’m sure you’ll be the life of the party this season.

Let’s get started.

1. Eat Light During the Day So You Can Eat Big at Night

Flowers, chocolate, cakes and cherries

From an evolutionary perspective, we spent most of our days fasting or eating very lightly while hunting or gathering. In contrast, the evening was spent stuffing our faces with the majority, if not all, of our daily intake.

Eating this way can have many benefits. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and insulin, which may help delay that afternoon post-lunch lull. Also, it fires up the fat-burning furnace by activating hormones responsible for fatty-acid utilization during the day (growth hormone, cAMP).

In non-nerd language, keep yourself away from the office candy bowl, cupcake spreads, and sugar-laden refined carbohydrate treats during the day. Instead, eat lighter, low starchy-carb, protein, and fat-based breakfasts and lunches. You’ll notice a number of things trying this approach, but to name a few, it will help you maintain cognitive function, productivity, and energy and make you much more carb sensitive in the evening, which may help with sleep.

An example of a male client looking to maintain progress would eat:

  • 8 oz of protein (steak, chicken, turkey, eggs) which translates roughly to the size of two decks of cards,
  • Unlimited stir-fried or steamed vegetables,
  • A few almonds, cashews, or chestnuts (because of Xmas and stuff)

An example for a female client looking to maintain progress would eat:

  • 4 oz of protein (roughly the size of a deck of cards),
  • Unlimited stir-friend or steamed vegetables,
  • A few almonds, cashews, or 1/2 avocado.

At our core, we are wired to maximize reward and minimize sacrifice. With that in mind, most of our clients find it relatively easy and practical to eat lighter during the day, as long as they know they’ll be getting a large meal at night (think after-work drinks, dinners, and outings with friends, co-workers, and family).

This leads me to the next tip…

2. Have Your Big Eating Day(s) Strategically Planned Out

Let’s face it, when it comes to eating to a plan, I know you’re not going to be compliant 100% of the time. That’s why I’ve frequently suggested that clients commit to a structured plan at least 80% of the week and strategically plan their celebration meals.

Getting or maintaining the results you want is about what you do with your habits, or diet for this matter, the MAJORITY of the time, not ALL the time.

As a coach, I try to be realistic when designing plans – I understand that there are going to be parties where there will be great food, terrific drinks, and perhaps even a few of Santa’s naughty little helpers.

Beautiful blonde girl having a good time at party

I get it.

Now that’s been established, try the following:

First, eat your regular, lighter, low-starchy-carb meals during the day. Then, Enter the evenings in a feeding fury with your body primed for recovery and enjoyment.

Second, plan out your 1-2 big eating nights a week during the holidays where you can eat and drink guilt-free. One female client lost over 6% body fat in 11 weeks by strategizing ahead for big meals for the entire month before starting her program.

“Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Be responsible, have a plan in place for whatever life throws at you, and have fun with it.


3. Family Style is Making Us Fatter

When it comes to holiday feasts, typically, we find ourselves being served “family style” in the form of large plates or bowls placed in arms’ reach.

One study found HERE found that women and men eat faster through their first helping and eat an additional 29% if the dish is on the table instead of the counter.

That considered, and to avoid eating more food than you need, leave the serving plates in the kitchen, on a counter, or anywhere else that requires your guests to stand up and leave the table for another helping.

This will allow your family and friends to be selective and take only what they really want without the external pressure of trying everything at the table for fear of being rude to the chef/host. Moreover, it should also keep them from overeating and becoming uncomfortably full.

This is a minor and easy environment tweak that makes a huge difference. All it takes is a little planning before everyone sits down to eat; the rest will be unconscious.

Healthy food on the table blurred

Wrapping up

Now you’ve got the tools and strategies to help you and others get through the holidays without stacking on the unwanted fat and being miserable or stressed about sticking to a diet.

Now go on and enjoy the f*ck outta the holiday season!