Intermittent Fasting During the Holidays - IMBOLDN
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Intermittent fasting is a popular form of dieting. It is often used as a broad term to describe several similar diets, each focused on alternating between periods of fasting and periods of eating. This idea is practically engrained in our DNA from the times of hunter gathers who used to go for long stretches of time without eating before they would finally come upon a feast of food. The intermittent fasting that people practice today is much more voluntary and casual, but it can have many of the same benefits as it did for our primal ancestors. Not to mention, for those of us who love to eat, intermittent fasting can be both the perfect diet plan and an opportunity to eat well. Both are especially true around the holidays when food is bountiful.

The holiday season is full of sweets and heavy carbs. It’s a time of the year that has become notorious for people overeating and then spending subsequent weeks and months trying to lose unwanted body fat that they accumulated over the holidays. But more and more people are using intermittent fasting to lose weight and improve their eating habits around the holidays, as well as year round.

One of the most popular appeals of intermittent fasting is that it has the ability to induce weight loss while allowing you to still eat some of the foods that you love. In this way intermittent fasting is about more than just weight loss — for instance, some guys are not looking to shred pounds as much as they are looking for improved health and increased metabolism. Intermittent fasting can help with these goals and do things like lower insulin levels and blood sugar. It can also improve cognitive functioning and increase production of human growth hormone.

Additionally, unlike other diets, intermittent fasting provides you with the opportunity to not miss out on your favorite holiday festivities and meals while remaining on track to achieve your weight loss and health goals. The hard part about intermittent fasting, aside from not eating, is being aware of overeating during the window of time that you’re allowed to consume food. This is especially difficult during holiday meals.

Fasting and Holidays

While some people do intermittent fasting throughout the year, they often run into problems around holidays that involve the temptation of large meals and snacks.

At first thought, intermittent fasting seems to go against the grain of the holiday season. After all, what’s the best part about many holidays? Eating, of course. Whether it’s snacking on Halloween candy, binging on Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers, or partaking in the many other food-centric traditions that happen during the fall and winter months, there’s no question that the holidays are synonymous with eating.

Even still, many traditions that involve fasting are still intertwined in the holidays. Most religions, particularly Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, practice some form of fasting, specifically around certain holidays.

The difference between intermittent fasting and many other dieting programs is that once you find your rhythm with it, you can use it long term.

There’s no doubt that fasting can be difficult, but like its place in organized religion, fasting has a purpose in society as a whole. While many people use it to lose weight, or maintain a healthy metabolism, its purpose is also to make you more mindful and appreciative of the food you eat and to offer a reward for self-control. Many diets don’t do this with much success or to the satisfaction of dieters.

It can be maddening to go from fasting to feasting during the holidays. Bouncing back and forth from one extreme to the other is tough. But is it tougher than gorging yourself on mash potatoes and apple pie and then spending the first half of the new year eating bland, low-calorie foods and trying to work off the excess calories in the gym?

The difference between intermittent fasting and many other dieting programs is that once you find your rhythm with it, you can use it long term.

How to do Intermittent Fasting Over the Holidays

There are many ways to do intermittent fasting. Some people fast the entire day and only have one meal before repeating the cycle. Other people eat every 16 hours. Some people do intermittent fasting everyday, other people do it a couple days a week. The point is that there are seemingly countless ways to do intermittent fasting and it’s important that you find the method that works best for you. Your body is unique and you should not settle for a cookie-cutter approach to your diet.

It might take some trial and error, but once you find the method of intermittent fasting that works for you, then you can strategize on how to implement it around holiday meals. Regardless of which method you choose, the key with any type of intermittent fasting is to eat fairly healthy.

While you may not get to binge eat while doing intermittent fasting, you do get to eat a little of everything without having to feel guilty.

In other words, when you’re not fasting don’t gorge yourself. This can be difficult at, say, Thanksgiving dinner when there is a virtual smorgasbord of food to dig into. So while you may not get to binge eat while doing intermittent fasting, you do get to eat a little of everything without having to feel guilty. There’s nothing that says you can’t have turkey and cranberry sauce with stuffing and a slice of pumpkin pie to top it all off. That is, as long as you fast for considerable time before and after the meal.

This is, after all, what the holidays should be about — enjoying good food, good company, and good traditions, all while being healthy.