Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dietary Damage Control this Christmas Season

"I LOVE the junk food that is always around between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I always over do it. I don't want to have that sick feeling from eating too much or wind up needing new clothes in Januray. What "damage control" diet strategies can I employ to keep from overdoing it at the dinner table this year at Christmas time?"

First of all: The hardest part is not chucking the whole thing until the New Year, so you're already ahead of the game by thinking "damage control".

The tips outlined in this post will allow you to stay social and to be able to indulge in moderation without feeling sick or splitting your pants before the January:

1. EARN your dinner!
OK, I promised diet strategies, but I first I must recommend activity. Your body is better equipped to handle higher calorie and/or carbohydrate meals within 30 minutes before and within three hours following high-intensity activity. Ideally you would want to workout out before AND after a big meal, but if you can only make time for one, that is better than nothing. It is more important that you do it than when you do it. Don't pick up you knife and fork until you have put down your kettlebell.

Your best options? 10-20 minutes of kettlebell circuits or interval training ( like the Secret Service Snatch Test). Even a 20-30 plus minute walk a few hours afterwards can serve as a bit of damage control.

2. Do NOT Fast in Preparation for a a Big Meal or Holiday Feast
Unless you are skilled at practicing the Warrior Diet, fasting in preparation for a free meal will not only lead to overeating, but overeating foods that are extremely high in sugar and empty calories. Your body has a survival mechanism. If you are following the Warrior Diet, you are already taking advantage of this. ( Marty Gallagher does a great job of distilling the Warrior DIet into it's simplest elements in his book The Purposeful Primitive. Put it on your Christmas list!)

If you are following a frequent feeding plan like Precision Nutrition, "fasting" equals "famine" to your body. So the next time that you eat your body will want to use as much of the incoming food as possible to store as body fat (survival energy) in anticipation that it won’t see food again for another long period of time. The solution is to stick to you schedule: eat every two to four hours as you normally would and prevent yourself from becoming a ravenous beast this holiday season!

3.) Do NOT Gorge Yourself
It is easy to see a huge spread of food as a "challenge" to see how much you can put away. Eat until the point of satisfaction, not discomfort. Fundamental Law of the Universe: binge eating on Junk food is not the habit of lean individuals. It is imperative to understand that that holiday meals are not a challenge eat as much sugar as you can in as little time as possible. Step away from the cookies.....

4.) Eat a High-Fiber, Protein-Rich Meal An Hour Before a Holiday Event
A meal high in fiber and protein before a big holiday meal will help prevent overeating by making you feel more full before the mashed potatoes and stuffing comes.

5.) Eat Vegetables and Lean Proteins FIRST
Just because it’s a holiday meal doesn’t mean you can’t eat any nutritious food. Load up on healthier food choices first, before the mashed potatoes and rolls and cake. Eat as much lean meat, fish, and fruits and veggies as possible at the beginning of each holiday event. This will leave less room for the unhealthy, higher calorie junk. This way you know your body is getting in some good nutrition in addition to the sugary treats.

6. Resume Your Normal Eating Habits at the Next Meal
What’s done is done. Now it is time to get back to your regular eating plan. Weekly caloric intake is more important than daily caloric intake.

7. Do not Eat Junk Food for Breakfast
Eating a highly refined carbohydrate meal first thing in the morning will make your blood sugar levels spike and dive. The result: more junk food cravings and uncontrollable hunger. Break the cycle by eating some protien and veggies for breakfast.

8. Limit Empty Liquid Calories and Alcohol
One can of soda contains about 140 calories. A 2 liter has over 1,000 calories. It is easy to rack up a LOT of calories with beverages.

As for alchoholic beverages, your body cannot burn fat until the alcohol is processed. Keep it to a minumum, only at your pre-planned event.

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