9 Research Backed Strategies for Indulging Without Guilt

It feels awful, doesn’t it?

It’s the Holidays. But even after you’ve given yourself permission to indulge:

  • You still feel guilty. (I shouldn’t be eating this.)
  • You still feel shame. (I suck.)
  • You’re still worried (I’m going to undo everything and ruin it all.) and heaven forbid (I’m probably going to gain weight from all this.).

So the celebration continues with your loved ones (unaware) as your internal battle ensues.

But if there’s one true definition of occasional indulgence it would be this… Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It happens once a year.

Life is meant to be celebrated with the people you love most.

And the universal truth for cultures all over the world is this: We all celebrate with food.

You shouldn’t be denied this human experience.

But how do you enjoy the time with your loved ones with food and not feel awful for indulging during, and after?

  1. You use smart strategies. Backed by research. They promote reduced insulin (a fat- storing hormone).
  2. You create a plan using some of these strategies to reduce the consequences.
  3. You trust that you’ve been smart about it by doing your part. So you accept it as a normal part of your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s create a plan. 

1. The counterbalance

Fasting is the counterbalance to a feast.

It’s a powerful tool to empty your stored sugar and keep insulin low. Low to empty sugar stores and low insulin means your body burns fat for energy which results in fat loss.

But fat loss isn’t your goal today. You want to reduce sugar stores. You want to compensate for indulging in a feast, so you fast.

And you don’t have to be a fasting pro to do that.

Here are some options:

  • Skip breakfast (or lunch) (or both) on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.
  • Skip breakfast (or lunch) (or both) the day after.
  • Skip the second dinner… you know, the 2nd wind? Have one big feast instead of two.

Most of us aren’t hungry in the morning so skipping early daytime meals is easier to do. 

2. Make it your version

Added sugars and refined, processed carbs stimulate insulin the most.

But today I wouldn’t worry too much about the pineapple or brown sugar glaze on the turkey or ham.

Use protein to keep you full longer so you can escape that 2nd wind.

Place your effort on what gives you the best insulin bang for your cooking buck: the side dish, and the dessert.  

Make your version of:

3. Friendly carbs

Two words: Soluble fiber.

They form a viscous gel that keeps you full and slows down digestion which results in reduced insulin after eating.

Why not use them in your low carb side dish or low carb dessert?

4. Go slow

You want to enjoy the feast, but not feel sick afterwards.

Slow eating allows you to enjoy the food without overeating.

It gives your body the time it needs to send the “you’re full” signal to your brain – before it’s too late.

Slow eating tips:

  • Chew your food a few more times before you swallow.
  • Put your utensils down in between a few bites.
  • Savor the food: Pay attention to the different textures and flavors. 
5. Vinum acetum

I call mine Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar: raw, organic, unfiltered, “With the Mother”.

Take 2 to 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar right before or with your meal (especially a starchy one) to reduce your insulin response by up to 34%.

  • Use it in your salad dressing.
  • Use it in your pickled side vegetable dish.
  • I put 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a mason jar of cold sparkling water rimmed with pink Himalayan salt. (I’m one of the weird ones who finds this refreshingly good.) 
6. Spice it up

It’s cinnamon season!

Add just over 1 teaspoon (3 g) of cinnamon to your meal to reduce your insulin response after eating.

  • Cinnamon with your coffee, tea.
  • Cinnamon with your favorite low carb dessert.
  • Cinnamon with {your creative juices here}. 
7. Move

You don’t even need to do a 5k. Just don’t sit too long. Stay away from the couch. Mingle.

Breaking up prolonged sitting every 20 minutes with just 2 minutes of light to moderate walking lowers insulin response after a meal.

Feel like doing a 5k? Moderate-intensity exercise is good timing on feast day. A single bout of exercise improves insulin sensitivity for at least 16 hours after you exercise.

Want an additional fat burning boost? Drinking green tea or exercising before eating breakfast can make you burn more fat during moderate exercise. 

8. Reds and spirits

Daily intake of up to 2 glasses of red wine (6 oz each) (360 ml total) has been shown to improve insulin resistance.

Even the hard stuff (i.e. vodka) can improve your insulin response after eating.

Please feast responsibly. 

9. Hit snooze

Just one night of sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance.

Going to bed early on Thanksgiving or Christmas is probably not going to happen. But you can sleep in the following day.

Don’t forget to turn off your alarm and let everyone know you plan to get your Zs

How to create a plan that works

Now you have smart and research-based strategies to choose from so you can reduce the consequences of indulging on special occasion.

You don’t have to do them all. That’s a recipe for failure.

  • Just pick one. The easiest one (i.e. sleep in).
  • If you’re feeling pumped and you have the time… pick no more than 3 easy ones (i.e. coffee for breakfast, avoid the couch after eating, vinegar).

Imagine enjoying Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with your loved ones without feelings of guilt, shame, and worry.

Have a plan. That’s the key.

You’ve done your part. It isn’t perfect but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a normal part of the change process.

But a plan that doesn’t get acted upon won’t work. You know what you can and cannot do.

What’s your own easy and doable plan?


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