Intermittent Fasting: Four easy steps for Thanksgiving survival

Real talk about how to keep your waistline in check.

Photo Credit: Country Living Magazine

Even if you normally have a healthy diet, it’s likely that you will overindulge a bit during the holidays. Your best option for maintaining your health — and waistline — is to use intermittent fasting to get through the Thanksgiving season.

Please understand this: I’m not suggesting that you try a fad diet during the most calorically dense time of year. Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet. Instead, it’s a lifestyle that involves periodic breaks from eating.

The premise of IF is that one only eats during a limited timeframe with the result being that the body’s metabolism will speed up and fat stores will be burned. The easiest way to do intermittent fasting is with a 16:8 window in which one fasts for sixteen hours and eats within a window of eight hours.

Basically, you don’t snack after dinner and you skip breakfast. Easy peasy.

So how does this get you through Thanksgiving?

1) Give your body a break…and embrace the ketones.

Eating large quantities of heavy or sugary foods can be stressful for the body. Your blood sugar is spiking and crashing from the high carb snacks. Your liver is saying “wtf?” after that third glass of that mulled wine. Those cheesy vegetable casseroles are causing uncomfortable bloating.

Your body is trying to absorb all of this deliciousness, but it is hard and time-consuming work inside your gut. The best thing you can do is to enjoy those holiday treats, sure, but then give your body at least sixteen hours to process and digest them.

The benefits will be twofold: you won’t feel like you’re carrying a food baby and you will feel more energetic, thanks to some fatty acids called ketones.

Ketones are what we burn when the body has used its stores of glucose for energy. We get glucose from the foods we eat and those calories are the first to be burned when we need energy. Ketones, on the other hand, are chemicals produced by the liver and stored as fat. When the body burns through glucose and then burns ketones, the benefits are twofold: all of those holiday treats have been digested and the body is getting a nice energy boost as well.

The most important thing is that you give your body time to do that work. Let the 16:8 structure of intermittent fasting get you to that goal.

2) Start an IF habit today…and use the Zero app.

Give yourself a chance to be successful during the holidays by trying out intermittent fasting right now.

Yes, actually, I do mean today.

As in, after dinner…today.

Okay, just hear me out here. Eat a regular dinner. Eat until you are comfortably satiated. And then make the choice to go about your usual evening routine, but without the snacks.

In fact, I would recommend that you change your evening routine even further by downloading an app to your phone. This app is called Zero and it will help you get started with intermittent fasting.

I go into great detail here about the Zero app, but let me just tell you this: Thanksgiving is just over a week away and you want to have a intermittent fasting routine established beforehand.

The Zero app can help you establish your fasting goals and — even more importantly — the app will encourage you through that crucial first ten days of intermittent fasting.

My point here is that you need to give your body the chance to adjust to no snacking after dinner and skipping breakfast *before* the entire house smells like turkey and stuffing and anything else that you’re craving.

It will be easier to stay within your 16:8 window on Thanksgiving if you already have a bit of experience with the approach. Just try it.

3) Think about your snacking….and reach for the cold water.

If you are deliberately eating during a particular window, such as from noon to 8PM, your ability to resist mindless snacking has probably gotten stronger.

For me, I’m the kind of girl that can resist sugary treats and pastries, but if you get me near anything salty or crunchy it is Game. Frigging. On. (Ugh, those darn potato chips! They get me every time.)

As a result, I make a choice to eat lunch and dinner during my eating window, but I also choose to lower my overall calorie intake ever so slightly by trying to avoid snacking between those meals.

Having the Zero app makes it strangely easier to do this. I’m keeping myself accountable by staying aware of when I am fasting and when I am eating. That level of mindfulness works for me and helps the little voice in my head to say, “Hold on…do I want to eat that right now? Or can I wait to eat until dinner?”

One thing that helps me to cope with the urge to snack, especially with holiday foods, has been to drink a lot of cold water. I load up my water bottle with a ton of ice and make myself push through with drinking it when I’m feeling the urge to snack.

My water bottle, complete with stickers from some of my Scouting adventures.

On Thanksgiving, I won’t have my particular water bottle out, but I will be trying to drink more ice water, rather than just drinking wine and hitting the cheeseball and crackers.

4) Finally, cut yourself some slack.

I never got into the whole keto diet thing because I knew that I would be struggling to keep my body in ketosis. One indulgence, one ill-advised meal choice, and everything would be thrown out of whack. Just the thought of that much discipline made me feel mildly anxious. I couldn’t get past that what-if-I-don’t-do-it-right feeling to make a real effort with keto.

As a result, the thing that I love about intermittent fasting is that there isn’t any such feeling that I have *ruined* my body’s state. I do the best I can every day with intermittent fasting, and I’m usually successful with 16:8, but I know that if I screw up and eat during my fasting window, I can get back on track with burning those ketones the next day.

And, friends, the same goes for all of you. Try out intermittent fasting this week. Experiment with the Zero app and see how those features can help you with achieving your health goals.

With a bit of structure and practice in place this week, I believe that you can get through Thanksgiving relatively unscathed next week.

As always, thank you for reading.

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Written by

{writer | educator | Ed.D. | hiker | leader | feminist} email: lorimann921@gmail.com

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