....So we're in the 'tweaner' time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You're back in the real world after 4+ days of indulging in turkey and marshmellow-covered sweet potatoes. You likely have lots of holiday parties to go to in the next couple weeks. You also probably have a lot of work to get done before you take off for Christmas which doesn't leave much time for home cooking or morning/evening runs or exercise classes. Anddd you might feel like your teetering on the edge of 'I should be really healthy right now so I don't get the holiday pudge' and 'ahhh f*ck it, I'll deal with that in January.' Well, I'm right there with you! I'm writing this post to inspire you to GO WITH THE FORMER, as well as to give you some tips for helping quell those crazy carb and sugar cravings that get out of control this time of year! Below are my top ten ways to beat cravings and strut into Christmas time without feeling forced into wearing only stretchy jeans and baggy sweaters. Unless that's your jam...in which case, rock on :)
1. Keep the enemy out of the house or office.
Batch of cookies? Bar of chocolate? Block of cheese? One cookie / square / piece becomes....more than one. Know your trigger foods (the ones you are likely to overeat) and keep them out of the cupboard, office, car, desk, or anywhere else it will be a temptation. There will be enough temptations at parties this season so save your indulges for those occasions and really enjoy it, without the guilt!
2. Combine protein, fats and carbs at each meal.
Combine clean, lean protein with healthy fats, tons of low starch veggies, and high-fiber carbs at each meal to maintain a moderate blood glucose response. When you eat satisfying, blood-sugar-balancing meals, you’re far less likely to devour those cupcakes your co-worker brought in.
3. Eat by the clock.
Eating within 90 minutes of waking up will get your metabolism going and set your blood sugar up to be stable all day. Stop eating three hours before bed. Aim to eat an early dinner (between 6 - 7pm) and that's it for food for the evening. If you're wanting a little something sweet, make a nice cup of herbal tea. My faves are camomile, lavender, and Yogi Bedtime tea.
4. Write it down.
One study found that people who wrote down everything they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. The great thing about food journaling is that you can pick up on patterns and habits. For example, if you get a sweet craving at 3pm, think about what happened to create this craving. Did you not eat enough at lunch? Did you sleep poorly last night? Do you just want a break from your computer? Drink a big glass of water and re-evaluate if you still want something sweet in fifteen minutes.
5. Shift to healthier versions of your treats.
Pretty much any holiday favorite can get a nutrient-rich, lower sugar upgrade. My friend and fellow health-supportive chef, Laura Lea, is amazing at comfort food and dessert makeovers. Check out her website here. One of my tried and true ways to kick any sweet craving to the curb is eating a chocolatey protein ball which I keep on hand in the freezer. They're very nutrient-dense and filling so it's pretty hard to overdo it with these!
6. Go easy on the coffee.
Caffeine will elicit an insulin surge which makes you crave carbs and sugar when your blood sugar level crashes, causing you to want to overeat or choose unhealthy foods. If you're a coffee lover, stick to only ONE cup a day and have it with, or after, food. Please not on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
7. Create accountability.
Commit to yourself. Write down your goal, tell it to a friend or family member who supports your efforts, and remember that little black dress (or maybe skinny jeans) that awaits you for that big New Year’s Eve party.
8. Schedule in self-care time.
Treat stress management and sleep as a priority. This is always super important and particularly easy to forget during the holidays when we spend all day taking care of others. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of stress-reducing activities (or non-activities) into your day such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise and/or otherwise unwinding (reading a book, taking a bath, etc.). Commit to hopping in bed by 10pm so you can get seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.
9. Follow the three-bite rule.
With numerous sugary drinks, appetizers, desserts, and other concoctions you’re likely to encounter this holiday season, you’ll probably choose to indulge once or twice. And you should - it's good for the soul. But, you've got to do it mindfully and without guilt. To do so, follow the three-bite rule by indulging in three polite bites of whatever is tempting you at the party — we’re talking what you would eat on a first date, not during an 11 p.m. fridge raid – and then set it down and back away!
Armed with these tactics, you’ll be far less likely to succumb to whatever momentary sugary bliss awaits you this holiday season.
Good luck out there!