9 Easy Ways to Burn Fat this Holiday Season
Every year, around this time, I hear people using the holiday season as an excuse to fall off the wagon.“Oh, but my Auntie makes the best macaroni and cheese ever and I just can’t resist!”
“I have to bake 100 cookies for the holiday party tonight and have to taste-test at least five to make sure they’re ok.” Ok, fine. Don’t resist. No matter what you do or don’t celebrate, this is a time of year that is about spending QT with family, visiting old friends, making memories and of course enjoying a really good meal. You deserve to be a part of those things (mac n’ cheese and cookies included). So let yourself.
But when I say “let yourself”, I don’t mean “let yourself go”. Remember, it’s a holi-DAY (unless of course you celebrate Chanukkah, which is an eight day long celebration, but we’ll cover strategies on that in a bit); not a Holi-October-November-December. Don’t get overzelous and extend any of them into a three month escapade of self debauchery that you promise yourself you’ll fix in the New Year.
That cycle is vicious and annoying and getting really old. Quit it!
I know, I know. Between the Chanukkah potato latkes and the Christmas cookie exchanges, there’s a lot of social pressure and allure to eat stuff you wouldn’t normally. At the same time, you don’t need to be that person who devours the four pound box of Royal Dansk Butter Cookies (you know, the ones that come in that gigantic blue tin from your favorite aunt) sitting on the kitchen counter.
Instead, operate at this time of year as the person you are the rest of the year and as the person you’d like to be in the New Year. You know, the one who exercises four times a week, drinks green smoothies for breakfast, and goes to bed before 11:00pm? Remember that person?
You can be that person AND enjoy the holidays. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Eating a cookie, a latke or two and a few bites of mac n’ cheese on each actual Holi-DAY is a far cry from falling “off the wagon”.
Actually, I’m loving this quote from Shawn Stevenson which explains the above situation perfectly, “…I just put [food] in its proper place…to not run my life, but to be a compliment to my life.”
You see, leading a healthy lifestyle is not a “hit it and quit it” type of relationship (that’s what we call “yo-yo-dieting”). It’s a long term relationship. Kind of like what you might have with a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend. You work at and nurture it every single day. You’re not always perfect, but 90% of the time you are rockin’ it.
What was that you said? “Easier said than done.” You’re absolutely right. And that’s why we’ve put together a list of 9 strategies that will keep your paws OFF of the Royal Dansk Cookie tin so you can jump ON the waist-band wagon:
(Oh,by the way, we are in no way affiliated with any of the sites/companies below. We just really want to make sure we’ve got youcovered on all fronts so you can feel like a bad-ass in your own skin this holiday season.)
1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
- Remember the green shake I mentioned above? If you know you’ve got a big meal in the evening, don’t fast the entire day so you can stuff yourself up to your gills at the feast. Unless you are practiced at intermittent fasting, this is a bad idea and usually ends in over-eating and a food coma.
- Eat a healthy breakfast (like a green shake or a veggie omelet), eat a healthy lunch (like a turkey lettuce wrap, or chicken salad), implement strategy #7 at dinner and enjoy being among the few who don’t regret everything they just ate at the end of the meal.
2. SUPER-FY Your (Holiday) Dinner Plate
- What is SUPER-FY? It means this: build a plate that fills you with nutrient-dense energy; not empty calories.
- Use an appetizer size plate if it’s available to you to help portion control. Don’t worry, I promise there will be more food if you want to go back for seconds! This will help you avoid the after meal food coma.
- Fill 3/4 of it with food that actually came from a plant or animal that you recognize i.e. turkey, sweet potato, green beans, squash (extra points if you get in something leafy and green!)…then fill the last 1/4 with stuff you like from food sources are probably more questionable i.e. mac n’ cheese…
- Focus on the convo! Chit chat as much as you can. It usually takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register if your belly is full or not, so the more you chat, the more time you give your brain to let you know if you are actually hungry for seconds, or if you’re truly all filled up with holiday goodness.
3. Whip Up Quinoa Mac N’ Cheese (Your Guests Won’t Even Taste the Difference!)
- Use this quinoa elbow macaroni (or ask your favorite aunt if she can!) and keep if Gluten-Free so everyone can enjoy it! I use it for pastas at home and my hubs loves it…can’t even taste the difference!
- Use Grass-Fed or Raw Milk Cheeses instead like Kerrygold Cheddar or Grafton Vermont. They pack a ton of flavor so you don’t have to use as much.
- With just these two switches you’re packing in plenty of protein, a nice dose of satiating, health fat, much needed magnesium, some omega-3’s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) all without any icky antibiotics or growth hormones.
4. Keep the Christmas-Cookie-Exchange Tradition and Your Tight Tush Too
- Is your family the type that likes to make a big batch of sugar cookies, cut em’ up into fun shapes (like stars and trees) and then slather ’em with frosting and sprinkles?! Make these delicious, easy switches this year (You’ll be grateful you did!):
a. Meaningful Eats Almond Flour Sugar Cookies
b. Oh She Glows Coconut Milk Whipped Frosting (So good! Made this for my birthday!)
c. Allergy Free Alaskas’ Naturally Dyed Home-Made Sprinkles
- If you’re like us, and enjoy the simple pleasures of warm chocolate chip cookie, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen Copy-Cat Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect swap.
- And, if you find yourself in a cookie-a-thon bind pick up a a pack of Lucy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies or Enjoy Life Snickerdoodles. They’re usually available at your local supermarket.
- Every single one of these choices is GLUTEN-FREE and low-glycemic. So you don’t have to risk spiking your insulin level (providing you eat a reasonable serving, that is i.e. 2 or fewer) and hopping on the sugar high-sugar crash roller coaster, plus they all use really clean ingredients, so you don’t have to put toxic crap in your bod and worry about sacrificing all your best health efforts for the holiday.
5. Put Some Color in Your Potato Latkes
- Remember how we talked about Channukkah being an eight-day-long holiday? Well, I don’t know about you, but I personally would be big as a house if I ate fried potato latkes for eight days straight. If you’re the type that eats ’em every night of the celebration, I’m here to tell you that you can have your (potato) pancake and eat it too.
- How? Add in a little variety and try these three, healthy beta-carotene and antioxidant packed latke ideas:
a. Purple Potato & Kale latkes (you don’t have to use the kale)
b. Sweet Potato Latkes (replace the first recipe with sweet potatoes)
- Instead of frying them in GMO-laden, rancid vegetable/canola oil, fry them up using clean oils like:
a. Coconut oil,
b. Avocado oil
c. Pasture-raised duck fat
- You might also just try baking them, which is a delicious, crunchy option and usually CHEAPER than frying.
- Make your own applesauce in the crock pot. It’ll be fresh, low glycemic and the perfect accompaniment to your latkes.
- If you prefer a thick and creamy latke topping sauce, look for grass fed sour cream or yogurt such as this one by Natural by Nature at your local health food store or Whole Foods.
6. Dark Chocolate Chanukkah Gelt
- Make your own here or buy the dark chocolate kind such as this one by Divine Chocolate. Dark chocolate = more cacao (Yay! More antioxidants and magnesium!) and less sugar.
- Or, use, nut/stickers/pennies to gamble while spinning the dreidel throughout the eight nights of celebration.
7. Get on Grokker!
- Think there’s no time this holiday season to get in your exercise because it takes too much time to drive to the gym? Wrong!
- Get in on the home-exercise movement and join Grokker! Yoga, Pilates, Barre/Ballet, , Cardio, Strength Training…THEY’VE GOT IT ALL! Videos are as short as four minutes and as long as 90 minutes.
- You can sign up for a 15-day free trial and after that’s it $15/mo. That is the average cost of one nice restaurant meal nowadays and 1/3 of the cost of the average annual gym membership. Totally worth it!
8. Walk A LOT!
- Ok, so you don’t wanna get on Grokker? Fine. I get it. The holiday season is expensive enough (even though this is the part where I tell you you’re health is totally worth way more than $15 bucks). Fine. Then WALK.
- Walk after every meal if you can.
- It’s low-impact? Maybe. But, it still provides loads of benefits such as: blunting the rise in blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity which keeps you from storing body fat! Not to mention that fresh air and the repetitive walking movements can be a great way to destress.
9. Take some digestive enzymes and probiotics
- For those of us that are taking in even a small percentage of foods that we don’t normally eat because of the holidays, it could be a really good idea to down some extra probiotics and/or digestive enzymes. They can really help keep your digestion smooth and you’re immune system in check so you’re not coming down with belly-aches and the flu during all the festivities.
- Who might this be for? If you’ve got some holiday bloat, Black-Friday/Cyber Monday-gift-shopping-fatigue, and the “I’m-going-to-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-if-I-have-to-send-another-holiday-card” kind of stress, then you’d be a very good candidate.
- How to get ’em? Probiotics can be consumed naturally from fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi (only get the refrigerated kind, otherwise, the probiotics inside are most likely dead ).
- Otherwise, Ortho Molecular and PB8 make effective, trust worthy probiotic supplements. And, as far as the digestive enzymes go, Garden of Life and Klaire Labs make really effective, trust worthy digestive enzymes.
- Ben Greenfield’s got a great article that explains how and when to take both supplements.
Keep your belly full, your heart happy and your fat burning this holiday season!
Got any other ideas for us? Awesome! We’d love to hear ’em. Spread the knowledge and leave your ideas in the comment section below.
All information here is written in the spirit of compassion, voracious curiosity, and good fun. None of the information here is intended to replace an individual relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.