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How Fasting Can Help You Feel Better This Holiday Season

By Jackie Wang

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Article at a glance:

  • Intermittent fasting (aka time-restricted eating) is when you only eat during a certain block of time and limit yourself to water or low calorie drinks the other hours of the day.
  • Research suggests that intermittent fasting can reduce anxiety while increasing energy and brain function.
  • Intermittent fasting can help you feel better during the holidays.
  • Intermittent fasting is flexible and can be adjusted so you still can enjoy the food and other holiday festivities.

The holidays are here and that means food. Lots of tasty, delicious, and often unhealthy, foods. Unfortunately, partaking in all the festivities can leave us feeling sluggish, bloated, and just not feeling great at a time when we need to be at the top of our game. Saying no to the parties and meals means missing out on the important connections that happen when we socialize over a meal.

The solution to this conundrum may be intermittent fasting (“IF”; also called “Time-Restricted Eating” or “TRE”). TRE has a lot of benefits and is a great way to give your digestive system a much-needed break without having to tell Aunt Martha that you’re not going to eat her famous candied yams (though we fully support saying no and setting healthy boundaries).

What is Intermittent Fasting (Time-Restricted Eating)?

Intermittent fasting or “time-restricted eating” is when you only take in calories during a limited block of time. In a 24-hour period, you only eat (or drink calories) during an eating window that is 4, 8, or whatever-number-of-hours long. The rest of the day is your fasting window when you drink only water or a low-calorie drink such as black coffee or tea (or Re-Lyte!). A popular intermittent fasting schedule is “16:8”—fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. Under this schedule, you could limit your breakfast to just black coffee or tea, have your first meal of the day at noon, and finish eating no later than 8 pm.

The time restriction gives your digestive system a break and also helps you eat fewer calories (assuming you don’t go too crazy during your eating window). If you’re looking for a more detailed guide on intermittent fasting, you can learn more here.

How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Avoid the Holiday Slump

The holidays are a great time to get together, renew connections, have fun, and remember the good in our lives. With so much going on, it is easy to experience “goodness overload,” whether in the form of activities, people, or food. Complicated schedules, complicated relationships, lots of travel, big dinners, long to-do lists, excess treats, late nights, guilt, and more all take a toll.

Fasting can’t cure all this, but it can help. Some research suggests that short- and longer-term fasting have a number of physical benefits and may:

More energy, less stress, and better brain function around the holidays is something we all could use.

Even without these potential scientifically-supported benefits, the simple act of giving yourself eating and fasting windows can help reduce the sluggishness, brain fog, and general feeling of “blah” that is a common side effect of holiday feasting. Intermittent fasting won’t completely counteract our overindulgence, but it can help in several ways:

  • Setting an eating window helps reduce your overall calorie intake and avoid the all-day or between-meal snacking.
  • Adopting an eating schedule may help you be more mindful when you do eat.
  • Fasting for several consecutive hours gives your digestive system a break.
  • Skipping a meal or two may give you a little extra time to go for a walk, do some yoga, meditate, or finish that project you keep thinking about.

Fasting isn’t for everyone. Consult a doctor before adopting a fasting schedule if you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or other health conditions.

Intermittent Fasting Is Flexible and Stress-Free

Another great feature of intermittent fasting is that you get the mental and physical benefits without missing out on the holiday celebrations. Every variation of intermittent fasting gives you an eating window, and you can adjust it to open in time for Thanksgiving lunch, holiday dinner, Christmas breakfast, or brunch with friends.

Fasting is easier on you and your system if you stick to the same schedule, but a few adjustments won’t rob you of the benefits. And don’t stress if your holiday plans suddenly change in a way that completely disrupts your eating schedule. Enjoy the meal, eat mindfully, and reset your fasting plan the next day. If you end up eating a couple of heavy meals one day, you may decide to set a longer fasting window the next day or two.

So set a schedule, listen to your body, be gentle with yourself, and enjoy this time of year.

Looking for support and camaraderie on your fasting journey? Check out the Redmond Life Fasting Facebook Group.

Join Fasting Facebook Group

 

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Comments (1)

Sherena McMurdie

Thank you for all the good reminders and ideas! We want to have fun, we want to enjoy good food, and we want to enjoy what others have made for us during the holidays and celebrate.
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Redmond Life replied:
Hey Sherena!

Of course! We hope you enjoyed your holidays:)