Kick Food Anxiety & Weight Gain To The Curb This Holiday Season
It’s the time of year that many of us look forward to, starting with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and ending with New Year's celebrations. This year, more than ever, many of us look forward to sharing special moments with our loved ones. But this can also be very stressful if you're trying to lose weight or have worked hard to lose weight and would like to keep it off.
For many of us, the holidays can become an anxiety-filled season with pressure from our loved ones regarding what, when, and how much to eat or drink. This is true even for diabetics or those struggling with eating disorders, kidney, or heart issues, all of which require healthy food boundaries to honor our bodies and protect our health.
In my experience as a clinical metabolic nutrition and fitness expert, most people handle the stress of both non-food related and food or alcohol related stress during this season by choosing one of two extremes. They either restrict themselves from their favorite foods to ‘be good’ or completely throw in the towel and eating as much as they want, whatever they want, when they want, often mindlessly, promising themselves that after New Year's they will start taking better care of themselves.
This is also known as black and white thinking and pendulum swinging where we swing from one food extreme to the other. Both are ways to cope with food and alcohol issues and the stress that seems to go hand in hand the holiday season.
Sadly, following overeating and/or drinking, there’s always a new diet or workout promising to solve all of our health and weight problems. Many of these diets focus on restricting entire food groups in order to lose weight and supposedly improve our health, promising to make you feel your best and fit in a bikini.
Trends that tell you to... Eat this superfood, don’t ever drink a diet soda, fast longer, so you end up not eating for days. Eat for your body type, eat like cave man, drink greens or collagen powders, juice to get your nutrients... or the “OMAD” trend where you eat ONE MEAL A DAY, which also means you would have to provide your body with the nutrients it needs IN ONE MEAL… seriously?
The insanity goes on and on. These promises may sound good, or your friend may have lost weight or grew an entire head of hair overnight taking gummy vitamins, but they are not healthy, physically or mentally. Our relationship with food is even more important than what we eat or overeat. It can help make or break our food choices that can also help prevent overeating. We can avoid the need to punish ourselves if we happen to overindulge while making better choices and consistently live a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
On the flip side, overly restrictive diets, avoiding or blacklisting certain foods specifically for weight loss tend NOT to work and backfire, which is why 90% gain all the weight back plus more pounds, leaving us feeling hopeless and like we are bad people. On again, off again (aka yo-yo dieting) is damaging to both our phycological and also physical health.
Sadly, I know how this constant on again, off again dieting (aka yo-yo dieting) leads to weight gain, stresses the body, and may contribute to insulin/metabolic resistance, chronic inflammation, and affects the cardiovascular disease, to name a few.
Diets don’t work. Over-exercising doesn’t work and is abusive to our bodies when done as a punishment for overeating.
No judgement from me! I've been there and done it all. Nothing worked for me until I learned how metabolism works, and how a few healthy boundaries around food, alcohol, and friends and family can transform your body, mind, and spirit. You finally lose the weight that’s been bugging you, and keep it off, allowing your main focus to be enjoying and embracing this joy-filled holiday season versus dreading it because you're hyper-focusing on what to eat, or how not to overeat.
In my own personal food struggle experience, I thought over-exercising could allow me to get away with overeating. It made me feel terrible about myself and believe I was weak and didn’t have the willpower needed to succeed.
Bottom line… those who focus on what they can't eat over-deprive themselves and are more stressed, which often leads to overeating or drinking, or Scrooge behavior, so no one wants to be around us. Sound familiar?
Research proves that when we shift our focus to what we can, or better yet, choose to have or not to have, accept what's best for our bodies and learning to love our bodies as is (faults and character defects included) that we actually begin to feel better, both physically and emotionally. And, we no longer feel controlled by food. We make healthier choices organically, we become healthier physically and mentally, and we wind up having more self control over our food choices versus food controlling us. The side effect is improved mood and weight loss that's sustainable, so you no longer feel the need to try every diet or exercise method that the media or your crazy friend promotes. Food freedom at its best!
It’s important to note and understand that there is a big difference between overly restrictive dieting and clinical and medically indicated diets that direct your food choices toward foods that help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. When i say diet I simply mean the types of foods you habitually eat, NOT the quick fix kind most of us think of when we hear the word diet.
For example, I need (so I choose) to not consume alcohol because it affects me in many unhealthy ways, both physically, because it leads to overeating and damages liver health, and emotionally, because it’s a depressant and I don't need more of that! I prefer to eat fibrous carbohydrates versus processed carbs like pastas, breads, and other grains because I had a hard time balancing my blood sugar when I ate them, and I didn't feel good when I indulged in them. This often led to me overeating on them, causing rapid weight gain, which was not good for my body or my mood/outlook.
I also have autoimmune/hypothyroidism, so like someone who has celiac disease and avoids gluten, I eat more thyroid-friendly foods like fish and green salads, which organically eliminates gluten, making it easy to live a healthier and leaner lifestyle that also organically keeps my weight in check.
I no longer need to over-exercise or torture myself, so I feel better and won’t be looking for food in-between meals to lift my energy due to overworking in gym and expending excessive amounts of energy, which triggers uncontrollable hunger and cravings.
So, how do we survive the holidays without harming our health or gaining weight?
For me, living my best life means finding the balance between enjoying my time with family, focusing on them versus the food. This includes preparing a delicious and balanced meal for my family that includes lots of “good for your body food” that also tastes good, that everyone loves. I also serve foods that may not be considered perfect by healthy standards, but make it feel like a festive feast and joyous occasion.
I no longer diet. I continue to live the same leaner, healthier lifestyle that allowed me to lose the 40 pounds that made me feel tired and achy all the time due to the excess weight I was carrying around. One of the reasons I love the Metabolic Boosting Meal Plan that suggests replacing two meals a day with a Complete Protein Shake instead, and nourishing my body with safe, nutritional supplements to protect my health is because of the food freedom it allows me. It removes the need to overthink about what to eat and when.
It also taught me which foods would make me feel better, both physically and mentally, so it became easier to avoid the foods that weren’t making me feel good and caused me to gain weight, even if I only ate little. It also inflicted balanced eating and provided me the wiggle room or calorie margin to enjoy holidays without fear or food anxiety.
It's the science of healthy eating that works in our metabolic favor that helped me understand how when we provide our bodies with what they need, in the proper amounts, that it fuels our metabolism, making it work more efficiently. It's simple science, and you’ll quickly notice that when your food is in order your whole life falls back into order. Anxiety and stress will be greatly diminished too, so you can focus on the real reasons for each season versus putting all your efforts into balancing food and eating.
At first, it will feel like work, but once you surrender to the healthier habits you will no longer feel deprived or need to white knuckle it. I had to decide that I wanted to feel better, commit myself to what it took/takes, and do whatever it took to develop a better, more balanced relationship with the foods I choose to eat, and my eating habits.
Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not an easy or straightforward process. It has taken me years to learn about myself, and I've made more mistakes than I care to admit, even as the "Dr. Oz expert". I had to learn what worked best for my body by making mistakes or falling off my goal/plan and figuring out how to get myself back up again.
Over, and over, and over... forever. This lifestyle commitment/food plan made it easy for me. I didn’t have to think about what to do next or which new fad I was going to partake in. All I had to do was get right back on track the next day or the next meal if I fell early in the day. I no longer had to keep telling myself no more carbs or cheese; I simply focused on what my body needed, prioritized those specific foods, and allowed the process to do its job for me.
The nutritional supplements also made it easy because they helped re-balance and balance blood sugar levels that were driving some of my not-so-healthy behaviors and preventing me from seeing or feeling the results I needed.
Since I've committed myself to what works I no longer sneak into the cabinets or refrigerator when no one is looking, eating all the foods I avoided all day long. Through lots of personal experimentation, studying human behavioral science (what makes us do what we do), and focusing on the simple metabolic science and a whole lot of faith, I have learned to remove my emotions and follow the plan. And when I don’t make perfect food choices, it’s okay... focus on my progress instead.
Skip the fads and stop buying snake oil potions and supplements sold by celebrities who aren’t educated in the field and never struggled with their weight. Stick to what works! You’ll begin to enjoy what you eat again, find pleasure in exercise, and feel grateful and happy again. Go and enjoy a delicious, nutritious holiday meal more by balancing the foods you put on your plate without guilt or stress.
To help you do that, here are some simple principles I keep in the front of my mind that keep it simple, work for me, and make it easier.
Don't Consider/Make any Food Off-Limits
It's not healthy to label any food off-limits. Instead, change how you think about food and remember the Metabolic Meal Plan (when followed) balances your eating, which also creates some wiggle room for the foods that you enjoy.
For me, now that I've cleansed and rebooted my taste buds that were insanely addicted to sugar and carbs (the wrong ones), this takes the form of a gigantic salad (not kale). And, on holidays, it may mean a slice of pie. I no longer have pie, cake, or cookies every day like I used to. Now I know and understand that if I were to do this every day, I would probably have an energy crash and my hunger and cravings would begin to affect me more as well.
The hardest healthy change for me was deciding to stop adding creamers, both non-dairy and dairy, and the seemingly healthy almond milk and keto creamers too. To this day, even though I've lost 40 pounds, my go-to breakfast is a delicious metabolic boosting smoothie because I LOVE them, and they make it easy for me to eat healthfully and balance my nutrition perfectly. No thinking, planning, or counting... WORKS FOR ME! It also provides my body with energy needed to survive my busy life.
The best part of drinking the shake every day is that it NOW allows me to not be perfect later. And the nutritional supplements keep my blood sugar stabilized, so I have more control, making easier for me to stop if I take a bite of something that's not healthy for my body or mind.
Does that mean you should take the Quick Keto Supplements and eat what you want every day?
That depends on your specific body and goal. This isn’t a black or white or one-size-fits-all answer. It’s important to assess how you feel when you eat a certain food.
I have found that when my clients stop focusing on restricting bad foods and focus instead on adding more of the good foods their bodies need, it forces balance without trying. You end up incorporating these foods in a more balanced way. The attraction to certain foods which tie us down organically declines and you start to see these foods as another food that you can easily take or leave.
Try this; it's a great first step. Identify a food you really like but have avoided because you think its unhealthy. Think about three ways you can incorporate that particular food in a more balanced way with less guilt.
For me, it was chocolate, so we'll use it as an example. Ask yourself, would you enjoy chocolate more if it were made with high-quality ingredients and didn't trigger you to overeat? Would you get more satisfaction from if you were able to enjoy it until you felt satisfied and able to save the rest for later?
Make Healthy Eating the Priority Most of the Time, Aiming for 80-20, or 90-10 if You're Above Age 50
When it comes to healthy nutrition for weight loss, I like to aim to eat healthy 90% of the time, which requires a little mindfulness and planning.
Think, what are you eating most of the time? Are you eating nutritious, metabolically healthy and balanced meals most of, or enough of the time? Are you getting in 10,000 steps on most days? That’s the main goal.
If you know you're going to indulge on, let's say, Thanksgiving, remind yourself that it's okay and that you're eating healthfully most of the time. Sure, you might gain 1-2 pounds, but as soon as you hop back on your healthy food plan, you'll lose it just as fast. If you didn’t get in 10,000 steps, it's okay as long as you do most of the time.
On the flip side, it's important to be honest with yourself. For me, that's where I struggled. I was telling myself I only ate a little. I've learned that my portions were distorted as I have a huge appetite that was leading me in the wrong direction. I didn't think I was over-exercising since I was still overweight, so I didn't believe it when I was told my exercise was making me hungrier and was one of the reasons I couldn't stop eating once I started. Now I know that getting enough rest is even more important when it comes to losing weight and melting off belly fat, contrary to what we are all told or sold.
The take home message? You don’t need to eat perfect or change your appearance to be healthy.
Learn to Keep Calm and Stay Focused on Enjoying Your Family and Friends
Food fear, anxiety, and constant stress about what foods you should avoid and which ones you should enjoy, as well as what the media tells you you should look like, are far more damaging to your health than enjoying chocolate every day or a diet soda now and then. Keep in mind that we are all unique, and so are our needs.
This is true beyond our nutrition habits. Life is precious and it goes by way too fast. Even though you may be feeling stressed, suffer from chronic aches and pains, are aging, have hormonal fluctuations, or have frequent celebrations that influence our food choices, it’s okay... the Metabolic Meal Plan has you covered! It has built-in room for flexibility. And even though you may not be losing one pound per day due to life happening, it's okay; you're heading in the right direction.
On paper this sounds easy, but you and I both know it takes courage and commitment, and it starts by taking the first step.
You're stronger than you think, and you've got this! Redirect and change your thoughts from...
- Fear to faith
- Swap food anxiety to focusing on time with family and friends
- Be grateful for your body and everything it does for you on a daily basis
- Simply do your best and leave the rest
I’m grateful for you all, and as always, I will keep you in my Thanksgiving prayers!
Lisa Lynn, Clinical Metabolic Nutrition & Fitness Expert. Best known for her 18+ years as Martha Stewart’s trainer, who was responsible for Martha’s over-50 amazing physical transformation that caught the attention of Dr. Oz, leading to her many appearances on the Dr. Oz Show. Lisa is not just another trainer; she herself lost 40 pounds and has kept it off, even with a sluggish thyroid and menopause.
- Lisa Lynn