How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays: Advice from a Holistic Nutritionist

As the Christmas holidays quickly approach, many of us are about to embark on an exciting journey of treats, feasts and delectable drinks. So let’s get real, we’re going to indulge to the extreme and likely eat more over the next few weeks than at any other point throughout the year. The good news is that for many of our cravings and taste buds, this may very well be the most wonderful time of the year. The bad news however, is that as a result of the Christmas holidays your body (like your bank account) may feel a little weak and withered come the New Year.

Now with that said, when it comes to your health all hope is far from lost. In fact, evolution has given each of us a miraculous gift that many of us have yet to open. This special gift I’m referring to is the unique ability to store energy when food is abundant, (i.e. Christmas) and then use or burn this stored energy when food is scarce or unavailable. The primary way we store this energy is in the form of ‘fat’, also known as adipose tissue, and the best way to access this stored energy is through a practice called ‘fasting’ or time restricted eating. Fasting is essentially the only way that you can unwrap this evolutionary gift and very similar to a Christmas stocking hanging on the wall, fasting provides a plethora of “miniature” gifts to your health.

Similar to a Christmas stocking hanging on the wall, fasting provides a plethora of “miniature” gifts to your health.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea that we must eat a minimum of 3 or more meals a day to maintain a healthy body has recently been flipped on its head and thrown out the window. The reality is that we now live in a world that is sick, tired and overweight as a result of eating too much as opposed to too little. Just to give you an idea of how powerful fasting can be, I have listed below many of the discovered benefits:

  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • Weight and body fat loss
  • Improvement and reversal of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased energy
  • Increased growth hormone
  • Potential prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline
  • Increased lifespan and health-span
  • Activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy (a discovery that was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in medicine)
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Financial savings: you skip a meal and you save a dollar!

One of the above listed benefits deserves a little more elaboration. While fasting, the body activates an ancient mechanism of self-renewal. It literally signals to your body to break down old and damaged cells and cellular components and then uses the old material from these cells to make new and healthy cells to take their place. This is the process listed above known as ‘autophagy’ and in recent years has become a new and exciting field of research for many top scientists. For the average person it takes approximately 12-16 hours of fasting for their liver glycogen (the storage form of glucose) to be depleted. Once this occurs then the body starts to breakdown and metabolize damaged cells as well as utilizing fat stores for energy. So hypothetically speaking, if there was one ‘magic pill’ to slow down aging, fasting would give it a real run for its money.

Believe it or not, this remarkable gift is what kept our ancestors alive through all the tough times when food was unavailable. In our not so distant past, humans would put on weight in the summer months when food was plentiful and then similar to a bear going into hibernation for the winter, these fat stores that we had recently accumulated throughout the summer would help sustain us through the long winter months when times got tough. The longest recorded fast in history was for an astonishing 382 days when a 27-year-old man consumed only water and the occasional multivitamin to supply him with his minimum essential nutrient requirements. Over this period his weight dropped from 456 lbs. to 180 lbs. with no detrimental side-effects. In fact, he also experienced a full reversal of his stretch marks and received a clean bill of health! Now am I telling you to stop eating for a year? Absolutely not, but I share this story with you to give you a radical example of the incredible gift that lays dormant in the vast majority of us.

My solution on the other hand is much easier and will require a lot less will power. Simply put, skip a meal. Not 382 days, not even 3 days (however you can if you like). Or even better, get into the habit of pushing breakfast back to lunch time over the holidays. Trust me, you will be better off for it and that unpleasant weight gain over the holidays will be a thing of the past. One minor exception to the rule is that you can have black coffee or herbal tea during a fast, just no sugar, cream or even stevia for that matter.

So in wrapping things up (no pun intended), lets imagine for a second that you are a child on Christmas morning and beside your brightly lit up tree is a beautiful stocking with your name on it. And not only is it full, but it’s busting at the seams! In sheer excitement you run over to it to find the following gifts inside:

  • A candy cane that with every lick slows down aging
  • A chocolate Santa that with every nibble gives you a greater and leaner body composition
  • A toy soldier that improves your memory and cognition when you play with it
  • A special yo-yo that gives you a protective shield against disease when it’s in your pocket
  • A $5.00 bill to do with whatever you please (for each meal you skip)

How excited would you be?

These are but a few of the gifts that you give yourself when you give your body that long awaited break from the constant influx of food over the holidays. The whole goal here is to use fasting as a tool to bring your body back into balance. If you over-indulge in food and drink on Christmas Eve, then offset the scale by under-indulging on Christmas morning. It really is that simple. So over the coming holidays be extra giving to your loved ones and especially to yourself. All things in life pale in comparison to the invaluable gift of health!

Happy Holidays!

Please note:

Now like all things in life, fasting is not fit for everyone. People who should not fast include pregnant women, children or teenagers under the age of 18, type 1 diabetics, anyone suffering from blood sugar deregulation and type 2 diabetes unless supervised by a medical professional.

Written by Chris Corcoran, CNP

Chris Corcoran is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Live/Dry Blood Microscopist. He is a graduate of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, the industry leader in training nutrition professionals. Chris’s passion lies in educating others on how to take full control of their physical and emotional health in a way that is effective, lasting and results driven. Chris believes that your body can only be as healthy as the level of life that precedes it, and therefore wants to take you on a journey to the foundational building blocks of life – the living cells that make all life possible. Specialities: Blood microscopy (live and dry blood analysis), nutrition, alkaline & plant-based diets, ketogenic diets, cleanses and detox diets. Chris routinely holds health and wellness retreats at Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat.

To set up a nutritional consultation with Chris Corcoran contact him at chris@innerreleaf.com.