It's December 4th as I'm writing this and I'm watching the first real snowfall on the season whistle into town. Not bad... I'll take an extra month of autumn any year Mother Nature wants to toss us a bone.
In Canada, a delayed snowy season means that Christmas sneaks up on you. Suddenly you realize that it's three weeks away. Seriously: literally three weeks away.
Not that you could really ignore it; at least, not if you're even a little bit active on social media. We're already into the spiral of Elves on Shelves and fun craft/gift/snack ideas. I'm all for it. I love the holidays.
My clients though? They're freaking out. Truthfully, they have been since (Canadian) Thanksgiving way back in October. And then Halloween candy - all those mini Snickers just lying around. And now THIS! Another family feasting occasion. "What am I supposed to DO?!" they wonder.
There are a lot of tidbits of advice floating around out there.
"Fill half your plate with green veggies!"
"Drink a half gallon of water before you eat dinner so you'll have less room in your stomach."
"Just eat the turkey breast meat and definitely DON'T have any gravy."
Yeah, I don't know. That doesn't sound very festive to me.
But I get it.
Metabolic Flexibility will Save You
Hey, you know how I'm always going on and on and on and ON about the "effortless relationship with food?"
What I'm usually referring to, really, when I say that is the idea of metabolic flexibility. By definition, metabolic flexibility describes a body that can run on whatever type of fuel happens to be thrown at it. It can use fat. it can use protein. It can use carbohydrate. It can USE these fuel sources, which means that it will store less.
Most people aren't metabolically flexible. You can tell if you are or aren't if a sudden change in your eating habits really affects you in some way - weight, mood, cravings.
The hormone that decides how food gets used in the body (aka, "metabolism") is insulin. Improving insulin function is how you achieve metabolic flexibility. Period. This is how you achieve an effortless relationship with food.
If you start now, you can be more metabolically flexible before the Christmas Feast hits. But you don't have much time. It takes about 2 weeks to shift the body's insulin function. [Sales pitch! Get in touch with me - my Quickie Nutrition program at just $300 is designed exactly for this purpose. I can run you through an insulin balancing protocol that will get things ticking for you before the feast. I'd love to help...]
And then what?
And then you'd be metabolically flexible enough - or as I prefer to call it, "Metabolically Chill" - enough to eat whatever you want. Your body will have a better idea of what to do with whatever it is you're indulging in. This is of great benefit to you at Christmastime, Thanksgiving, your birthday, your anniversary, on vacation... but it's also just an awesome way to run the body full-time, always.
In short, you really have two choices if you want to make it through the holiday season with minimal weight gain:
1) Deprive yourself; or
2) Fix your metabolic function.
And what if I'm not Metabolically Flexible in time for Christmas?
Eh, don't worry about it. Because that is not what this season is for. It's not about crushing willpower goals. It's about good times, cheer, indulgence, celebration, and happiness. Joy.
There is no joy in feeling miserable about yourself, so please don't.
Plus, the weight gain isn't even real.
That "weight" that you "gain" that makes your pants uncomfortably tight? That's temporary. Water weight. You cannot ACTUALLY gain ten pounds of stored fat on your body in just a day or so of bad eating. Biological impossibility. So I say just go for it. Every everything you want.
Nobody wants to be that guy on a diet at Christmas.
And nobody wants to sit next to that guy on a diet at Christmas either.
This fun interview with Rose on her family's tradition of "Bulksgiving" - literally a contest to see who can gain the most weight in a single day of Thanksgiving eating! - is just the light-hearted, caution-to-the-wind approach I really encourage my clients to have when dealing with these one-off social/festive occasions. Give it a watch.
Metabolic Flexibility: The Interview