Some of these are taken from Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Body, which I highly recommend if not for actionable health ideas, but entertainment value.
Stick to a Paleo Diet…Mostly
Paleo principles will go a long way to keeping you from gaining excess weight around the holidays. The rolls, lasagna, potatoes, bread, and other starchy foods are often empty calories and you can easily skip them for an extra serving of veggies and meat. Unless you’re training for a marathon and carb loading, you don’t need the extra sugar. Sugar ages you. I’m not suggesting you skip these foods or dessert. Not at all. Instead, try eating paleo for the first two-thirds of the meal – then you can sample the desserts and high carb food. By mostly filling up on low carb food, you’ll stay full longer and avoid the highs and lows of the blood sugar roller coaster.
It takes your body about 15-20 minutes to recognize that it’s getting full. So when you use the shovel method to scarf as much food as possible into your mouth, you’re consuming a lot more than you need (or really want). Focus on eating at a leisurely pace, sipping water, lots of water after every few bites, and actually talking to your family and friends. You’ll end up eating less while still being completely satisfied. Give it time to catch up.
More Fat, Less of a Glycemic Response
When you eat more fat with your meal, you’ll experience less of a glycemic response. This is a fancy term that simply means your blood sugar won’t spike as dramatically as it would if you drank a Coke on an empty stomach. Again, Coke ages you as fast as smoking does, so be careful with your intake of it. In practical terms, eating a serving of nuts as your appetizer will blunt the blood sugar spike. I prefer to dip veggies into a creamy ranch or cheese dip to get some fat (nuts don’t appeal to me as an appetizer…). Plus, the added fat will help you absorb the vitamins from the vegetables.
Did you know that your body can confuse being thirsty with being hungry? Slight dehydration will trick your brain into thinking you’re hungry, when you’re really not. Prevent the confusion by drinking enough good, clean water on your feast day so you won’t overeat. While a lot of fluids will hydrate you, try not to drink your calories with sweetened tea or soda (see tip #1 on eating paleo). Stick to good old clean pH balanced water – you’ll be better off without all that added sugar and you’ll eat less, and gain less.