Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Back to Low Carb After Thanksgiving (Or Any Holiday)

Despite our best intentions, carbs creep into our bellies during the holidays. We either get caught at a bad time with no good food options, fail to plan, or travel and lose control of the food and schedule which usually means we lose control of what we're eating to a certain extent.

Plus there's all that dessert. Mostly stuff we loved to gorge on in our pre-LC days.

Am I right?

Food conditioning is hard wired. Most of us, I would bet, have been eating pumpkin pie since late infancy. It's hard to break the emotional hold of sugar when pie has meant family our entire lives.

It's understandable then that all the comfort holiday foods are huge triggers for over eating and going off plan.

Here's my holiday deal, I don't stress about the holidays. Sugar happens. There's a lot more sugar in the world than there is low carb. I am not going to 'win' every battle. I do the best I can in situations where I'm not in control of the kitchen and when I'm home, I go back on plan.

So you know what? If you eat some pie or have some potatoes, it is not the end of the world. Do the best you can to limit the carbs and then plan the work and work the plan for the post-holiday period. Meaning don't just come home, high on all that sugar and think getting back into your groove is going to be so easy.

It's not.

You need a plan.

Here's how I approach it.

1.Set yourself up for success. I plan and shop for my favorite low carb meals in the week following a carb indulgence. This makes it so I have tons of yummy food waiting for me and the carbs are not even a temptation. The key part is it's there in the fridge making it easy to eat. You can even precook and freeze some meals in advance.

2.Snacks. Lots of LC friendly snacks. Carbs spike our appetites so be prepared. I like to do high fat stuff like jalapeno poppers because they are very very satisfying and kill carb hunger very quickly.

3.Exercise to burn off all that sugar roaring in your blood. If you are feeling sluggish and just want to pass out, that actually means you need to exercise. Don't wait until you feel like it, chances are you won't--there's a reason they call it a sugar coma. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel after some fun bopping around to music.

If you are used to working out, ramping up the workout frequency and intensity during the holidays can prevent weight gain in my experience. You still might get a few pounds of water, but those will come off really fast if you plan the work and work the plan after the holiday.

4.Aim for progress not perfection. Sometimes I gradually come back to LC, fewer carbs in my diet day by day until they are gone. Sometimes it's cold turkey, back on plan. Either way, as long as I'm doing better today than yesterday, it's all good.

5.Fight carb hangover with supplements like Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium GTF. I have found that 2 pills each cuts the carb hangover in half. Your mileage may vary, but it's worth a try as those carb hangovers can be brutal.

6.Drink your water to flush all that sugar bloat out of your system faster.

7.Do not weigh yourself until you've been low carbing for 3 to 5 days after the holiday. There is nothing there on the scale that is going to help you. If anything it will make you feel more miserable. That's not the goal. Just keep eating low carb, the holiday weight will take care of itself and you will be pleasantly surprised when you do get back on the scale.

This holiday season, don't focus on any of the carbs you ate. Don't beat yourself up about any mistakes you made. Everyone trips and falls, everyone, it's what we do about it that counts.

Promise me that this holiday season, you will put all your energy into moving forward with the best low carb food you can cook. That will serve you better than any regrets.

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