Don’t Bust Your Diet This Holiday Season!


Here is a repost of an article I wrote last November. It’s that time of the year again for holiday foods, so beware!

It seems that I will continue to uphold my yearly tradition of making my incredible (and incredibly UNclean) fudge for the holidays, as well as my signature turkey stuffing. Since the holidays come only once a year, it seems reasonable to indulge a bit, right? Well, if you’re a fitness fanatic and you have competitions coming up like several of my friends do, you can’t exactly throw caution to the wind and consume whatever you want. However, you CAN still indulge in small amounts of rich foods which are not considered clean as long as your other foods are healthy and clean. This means that your abs don’t have to hibernate during the holidays!

There are a few tricks to minimize the amount of bad foods which you may be tempted to devour.  You can consume a small amount of lean protein right before you have a carb cheat.  This will slow down digestion so that the carbs aren’t stored as readily.  Another trick is to drink at least eight ounces of water before you indulge in a decadent treat.  This will help to fill you up so you consume less food afterward.  When you are aware that you will be at a function in which tempting foods will be around, make sure your meals beforehand are kept clean and that you you eat every 2-1/2 to 3 hours to ensure that you won’t be ravenous come party time.

A newer tactic which can often work wonders for some people is to practice an intermittent fast the day before in which you consume a small number of calories, say 400-500, then go to town on turkey day, consuming your maintenance calories then. This seems to work better if you ramp up the week before with a series of intermittent fasts in which you consume your food (maintenance calories +10-20% on training days, then drop to -20% of maintenance on rest days) within a 4 to 8 hour window, then fasting the rest of the time. If you do this, crank up your protein intake so that it is at least 1 gram per pound of body weight. I personally love this diet approach and my body responds well to it, plus I can enjoy all the goodies on Thanksgiving without remorse.
turkey leg
There are food choices which are cleaner than others during the holidays. Though common holiday foods are rather calorie dense, here are a few food items which are lower in calories and fat:

  • Roast turkey breast
  • Green beans without butter
  • Mashed potatoes made with whipped butter and Greek yogurt instead of milk and regular butter
  • Pumpkin Pie

I know some of you are assuming that my cats join in with holiday feasts, but I always put them in my bedroom and lock the door. There are several reasons why I keep my felines away from the holiday table:

1. People food can often be hazardous for animals
2. My cats will run underfoot and probably trip people
3. My cats will suddenly forget the rule about not jumping onto tables and will create an unsanitary environment for guests
4. My cats will turn into pesky little beggars

Some of you may also be wondering what I am planning on cooking and eating, so here is my Thanksgiving menu:

  •  16-18 pound turkey
  • my secret stuffing recipe which has lots of goodies in it, but is relatively low in fat and calories compared to other exotic stuffing recipes
  • mashed potatoes made with light butter and sour cream
  • green bean casserole
  • my homemade fudge
  • whole cranberry sauce
  • turkey gravy
  • wine
  • store-bought pumpkin pie

Obviously there are some items on my menu that fall outside of my “clean food guidelines”, but since the holidays only come once a year, I have no qualms about it.   This is the time during which we should count our blessings and spend quality time with the people we love without getting anxious about what we are eating.  However, this does not mean you have free license to go nuts on bad foods for the next month!  If you end up indulging in other foods, don’t beat yourself up.  Instead, enjoy the feast and resume healthy eating the next day. 

Happy holidays!

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