Now that the holidays are over, many people look back with regret. It’s common to overindulge during November and December. And then when the cold light of January hits, you might feel remorse. Even the best plans to stay on track for your health and healing goals over the holidays can go awry.
If this sounds familiar, I have some do’s and don’ts that can help you ease back into healthy habits without going overboard. Let’s start with the don’ts.
Don’t go on a crash diet.
Gaining a few pounds over the holidays is common. We’re bombarded by sugar, alcohol, and carbs aplenty. But then when January rolls around and you have trouble squeezing into your work pants or don’t like what you see in the mirror, you might not be too happy with yourself.
It’s no accident that your social media is flooded with quick weight loss plans right now. The combination of holiday food regret and the New Year’s resolution frenzy leads many people to try crazy solutions to get that holiday weight off… and FAST.
I encourage you to pass this up. You can even adjust the settings in some of the social media platforms so you don’t see weight loss ads at all. Crash diets and lose-weight-fast programs have a lot of issues:
They aren’t sustainable.
Sure, you may lose a few pounds right at first. But once you go off the plan, those pounds are likely to come right back and probably bring a few of their friends along. Many crash diets result in weight gain in the long-term.
They are playing off your guilt and shame.
We live in a culture where thin is always in. I do believe this is changing, but it’s going to be a long time before thin bodies aren’t valued over bigger bodies. So when we gain weight, we usually feel bad about ourselves. And these diets (and the ads for them) tap into these negative emotions.
Many of them aren’t healthy.
If a diet is calling you to give up entire food groups, slash calories, or manipulate your metabolism with medication or supplements, it’s probably not doing you any favors.
So this year, let’s skip the crash diets. Read on for the “Do’s” section for what I recommend instead.
Don’t do a cleanse.
Yes, you probably added some toxins to your body with your holiday indulgences. And you might feel sluggish and inflamed as a result. But diving straight into a big cleanse can actually do more harm than good.
If you want to do some sort of a cleanse, it’s important to work with a practitioner to make sure all your detoxification pathways are open. When you force toxins out of your tissues and into your bloodstream, it’s important that they have a clear way out of your body. If not, those same toxins will just cause more problems.
Don’t try to “make up for” holiday treats and overindulgences.
Health doesn’t work that way. You can’t undo what you ate yesterday by restricting what you eat today. Your body needs nutrients and calories every day. So if thoughts of ‘salad only this week’ are flooding your mind, let them go. A week of salad won’t make up for a holiday sugar frenzy.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t make healthy choices coming out of the holidays. But there’s a difference between making choices that are good for your health moving forward and trying to make up for the treats you ate in the past.
Now let’s get to the things I do recommend for coming out of the holiday food fest.
Most people don’t drink enough water. And then when you add in winter and the holidays, it’s even harder to stay on top of your hydration. You may think of drinking water as just another item on your to-do list. But being adequately hydrated makes a big difference in both your overall health and how you feel day-to-day.
Drinking enough water can:
✔ Boost energy levels and brain function
✔ Help improve and even prevent headaches
✔ Relieve constipation
✔ Boost weight loss
I recommend you drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water. If you weigh over 200 pounds, shoot for 100 ounces of water. It is possible to overdo it.
If you want to boost your hydration further, consider adding a small pinch of good quality sea salt, some good quality mineral drops like Concentrace or an electrolyte booster like LMNT. Hydration is important because your body needs both water and the trace minerals you can find in these types of supplements. If you have a question about the best product for you, check with your practitioner.
Do increase your protein.
Most holiday indulgences are heavy in carbohydrates. And when the carbs go up, the protein generally goes down. A good way to ease back into healthy eating is to start trading some of the carbohydrate calories in your diet for protein.
Don’t go crazy here. I didn’t say eliminate or even restrict carbs. Just focus on protein and your carb count will naturally go down. Here are some tips to get started:
Base your meals around protein.
Start with a good protein source like meat or eggs. Then add some carbs in the form of veggies. There’s nothing wrong with eating grains as well (if you tolerate them). But shoot for minimally processed carbs as much as you can.
Include some protein with each snack.
If you’ve gotten in the habit of grabbing a Christmas cookie or piece of leftover coffee cake for a snack, grab a protein-rich item instead. Think yogurt, nut butter, a healthy meat stick, hard boiled egg, etc. Just skip any protein-rich foods you don’t tolerate well.
Start your day with protein
There are lots of ways to include protein in your breakfast. Sure, you can have eggs. But there are lots of other options as well including leftovers from dinner, collagen peptide powder in your coffee, or Greek yogurt.
Protein is good for your bones, muscles, and metabolism. It will also help reduce your appetite and keep you fuller longer after each meal.
Do avoid the foods you’re sensitive to.
If you fell off the wagon on your therapeutic diet, it’s never too late to climb back on. If you were on the low FODMAP diet and you threw in the towel over the holidays, you can get back to it.
And start cutting back on the foods you know you’re sensitive to. If you’ve let a lot of problematic foods and ingredients creep back into your diet, cutting them all back out may feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to cut out everything at once. There are no rules here.
I recommend you start with the foods that give you the most issues and then cut other foods out as you go along. Once you start getting back to a healthier food plan, you’ll start feeling better. Then you’re likely to feel more motivated to keep moving in the right direction.
Do reach out to your practitioner.
You don’t have to do this alone. A good practitioner will help you not only decide which foods to eat and avoid, but offer you support — both practical and motivational. And a good practitioner will NEVER shame you for what you’ve chosen to do or eat.
In my practice, I strive to empower my clients to move towards health one step at a time. Whether it’s running a lab test to figure out what their body needs, helping them figure out how to incorporate worthwhile changes into their lifestyle, or offering encouragement, my goal is always to help my clients feel their best and live life on their terms.
If you’re ready to get on track and make 2023 your healthiest year yet, reach out. I’m here to help.