Hey Angels and Alphas,
If intermittent fasting has been going well for you, you’re probably looking to maximize the results it brings you, be it in terms of weight loss or other health benefits fasting has become famous for.
If you’ve nailed down your fasting window and feel pretty good about the food that you’re fueling your body with, you’re soon faced with a curveball: it’s the holiday season!
One of the trickiest things about this season is navigating exactly what and when you’re going to eat, all while still staying with all your friends and family. You don’t exactly have all the control over what’s on the menu or when the dinner is being served as long as the actual kitchen isn’t yours. You also might not want to be feeling left out of the family breakfast or even skip a later dinner if you tend to fall outside your fasting window. And nobody wants to ditch the family to eat by themselves, right?
It’s okay to let loose this time of year, and it actually can be helpful for you. You can find that being too rigid with your intermittent fasting schedule during the holidays can end up backfiring and working against your weight loss or wellness goals by just not being sustainable. And if intermittent fasting becomes unenjoyable this time of year or just ends up holding you back from having fun on the festive season, then you’re likely to give up and say you’ll just keep doing it in the New Year.
But as long as you’re willing to embrace flexibility, there are a few tweaks you can use to make sure you’re still holding onto your goals and following IF. Here’s how:
#1 TRY “WINDOW SHIFTING”
Typically, you might run into meals being pushed later than you would normally eat. But ‘window shifting’ strategy is a great tool you can use to still follow an intermittent fasting schedule while you’re enjoying meals with loved ones.
To put it into action, you might start and end your eating window later to allow for that extra holiday dinner.
For example, if you normally eat from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., then change that to 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. (or later, if necessary).
With that said, holiday brunch is also a thing, and your aunt may be talking up her famous French toast bake. But you can just use the same technique here. Instead of a noon to 8 p.m. schedule, you’d bump it up to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate the brunch.
#2 PRIORITIZE PROTEIN
Holiday meals are known for their high-carb content, whether they would be pancakes at brunch or potatoes and stuffing at dinner. There’s one smart strategy you can use here – eat the protein first. If you grab yourself a plate of ham, some green bean casserole, and some mashed potatoes, start by digging into the protein before everything else.
By eating the protein first, you will help raise the satiety hormone peptide YY in your body. This is vital for preventing cravings after your adjusted eating window has ended.
What’s more, consuming more protein (and veggies) before carbs might also help lower the blood sugar response your body has to that meal. And with more regulated appetite hormones and blood glucose levels, you may just find it easier to stick to the quantity of dessert that aligns with your weight loss goals.
#3 BE COOL IF YOU “MESS UP”
Even if you totally blow your eating window, you’re going to be okay. You might have had all intentions to shift your window up to accommodate brunch, but something came up and led to you eating a late-night dinner. It’s OK.
Your progress is not ruined. It’s tempting to try an even stricter fast the next day — some people even report aiming for that massive 24-hour fast after overeating the previous day. You should just listen to your hunger the next day, and you should never fast longer the day after a treat. Doing this will only amplify your cravings. Just stick to your usual fasting window the next day, and then break your fast with a meal full of protein, fat and fiber.