Holiday season is holiday season and you need to feel that way. There are no meal plans or counting calories during the holidays! (this is for all readers and members of my programs).
There are hardly more than 1-2 occasions per month where you truly celebrate, with the exception of December, because there are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
If you are trying to lose weight
You can have light breakfasts in those 3 days. During the day, do not have anything except water, unsweetened tea (no juices, fresh or drinks like these). It is mandatory to do your workout, even if you struggle with it. And then… eat as much as you can at dinner. Your dinner should be in 3 rounds.
I could not help myself and make you a circuit eating, of course.
First round: pass by the table and just taste the food, everything. Rest for 10 minutes. If you want more, do a second round of trying every meal. Rest 10 minutes or as much as you want. Then, do the third round, just like the others. You should be full by now, here in Bulgaria we have a tradition of having 7-8-9 meals on Christmas Eve table.
If you are maintaining weight
Do not even worry about the holidays. Chill out and do not stress on what is and is not allowed during the festive dinner. Allow yourself to eat as much as you want only on one meal a day. Do not overeat at both breakfast and lunch, and then again at dinner. You will not feel good and your energy will be drained if you constantly have food to process.
On another hand, you will be very energized and motivated if you anticipate that holiday overeat. You will be thinking all day about the delicious food you are about to have, you will really enjoy your workout and you will be gladly awaiting the holiday. You will not be stuffed, swollen, puffy. You will feel light, cheery and happy.
How to keep track of your measurements after overeating/carbs loading
When you increase the amount of food you have, and especially carbs, you increase the water in your body, i.e. you retain water. On one hand, you will have more food in your stomach, (I know you are capable of eating 1 kg food), but on the other you will retain water (at least 1 kg) and voila – your scale will show 2 kg on top. There are people that can gulp down more than 1 kg food and to retain more than a kg of water, i.e. will weight 2 kg more.
Does this mean that you have gained 2 kg fat? No, it does not. Nothing bad has happened, you have not gained fat, relax!
In order to retain less water, drink more water. This way you will get your previous shape back, because the more water you drink, the more water you will lose, i.e. you do not retain any. Usually, in 3 days of going back to your normal meal plan, you go back to your previous weight.
Caution: weight is a very non-realistic measure. Just because you retain water and you have some stomach content, the scale will vary with 1-2 kg. This does not mean you gained 1-2 kg of fat. I prefer to track your waist, hip and thighs measures – it is a more accurate index of your progress.
Please note that I only mention overeating for once a day and only 3 days in December. I do not mean you can do that all the time.
Alternative way of eating
You can read everywhere that you should eat small amounts of food 5-6 times a day. I have also stated that in some of my previous articles. There are times that this type of eating is great. For example, if you start meal plan to reduce your body fat, you have to eat less food and you usually feel discomfort/hunger while you adjust to new amounts. I’ve noticed that if you eat around 4-5 times a day you don’t feel hungry and you’re not that prone to overeating. However, there is no real joy of feeling completely full and satisfied. In the adjusting period (the first 2-3-4 months), eating 5 times a day is recommended and useful for lowering the amounts of food you have and keeping your blood pressure stable (check down below why I think this is not healthy).
In the long term, I think it’s best if you eat 2-3 times a day. This is the better option for several reasons.
Reason #1: Socializing
You can have a light breakfast and go through your day on water and tea (no sugar or honey). People usually gather for dinner (family, friends) and one needs to relax, to release the pressure and de-stress, feel satisfaction and fulfillment. You talk, you experience emotions, share them with the people you’re with and you eat well. Eating is as necessary as it is a pleasure. The fulfilment to eat without any restrictions is a validated and desired sensation from all people.
If you eat twice a day, you can eat whatever you want, just because you can’t eat that much food, and if you do – it won’t really absorb. Of course, my advice is to try and overeat with good food, instead of flour and sugars, but everyone chooses for themselves. After all, we are different people, so each to his own. You can eat 3 times a day, again, with no snacks in between, just water and tea (without sugar or honey), not even 1 salty stick. Get used to eating when you sit down with the intention of eating. Don’t snack or say you’re just going to taste that thing!
Reason #2: Being healthy
Lately, a lot of people have insulin resistance. That is a pre-diabetes condition, in which the insulin cannot get glucose in your cells, which then results in a higher blood pressure and manufacturing more insulin from your pancreas and eventually it will lower/stop the produce of insulin and you will end up with diabetes (lack of insulin). This is why I think that constantly increasing your blood pressure with more meals is not very healthy.
The reasons for insulin resistance and diabetes are still unknown. I, however, have an opinion, which is based on evolution and 6th sense if you like (i.e. I don’t have any proof). I think the constant eating, the easy access to food and being sedentary do lead to insulin resistance. It’s just like getting used to a certain workout if we do it more often. Following the same logic, the body gets used to the frequently produced insulin and it developes an insulin resistance.
Or, the rarer you manufacture insulin, the more sensitive your body is towards it. It’s the same with eating, because after you eat you release insulin.
Reason #3: Evolution
Looking through the eyes of evolution, people didn’t have refrigerators and stores from which they can get food whenever they want. Getting food was connected with finding it – physical activity and have in mind that a person would have been hungry, because they searched for food when it was over. That’s not a regular process every 3-4 hours. Eat more when you have food and then there is go through a hunger period until you find more food. I.e. not regular periods of overeating and hunger.
If you clear your menu of flour (all grains) and sugar, you can eat however and whatever you want. Eat like it’s your first time and then wait to get hungry again. You will see that you will need at least 6-7-8 hours to feel hunger again. Eat again… and the day will be over.
Food made of flour, which gradually (over the period of 1-2 years) are good to be excluded out of your go-to foods or at least eat them every once in awhile – bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, salty sticks, crackers, biscuits, pizza, spaghetti, etc.
Food that contains sugar – swap the sugar with fruit.