FREE!!!! Carb Sanity Academy presents: Healthy for the Holidays

This mix of snarkasm and practical advice is brought to you by Facebook Memories reminding me of a post I made around a year ago -- The #LCHF Weight Loss Industry & Evangelizing Low Carb -- and the upcoming Keto Clarity Academy event featuring Melanie Miller and Jimmy Moore "influencing" people on how to stay healthy for the holidays.

The holiday season will be soon upon us, and even those who celebrate no December holidays will likely still have to navigate related social engagements. 

Let me preface this by saying that I recognize there are a number of people who absolutely cannot, or probably should not, stray from their dietary regimen.  There are others who, when they do, have a much harder time getting "back on the wagon" compared to whatever issues staying on plan will cause.  If you are any of these people, this blog post is not for you.  This blog post is aimed at all of those who are angst-ridden going into and through the upcoming holidays and associated social occasions.  Perhaps you're currently engaged in losing weight, or you've lost weight and are working to maintain it.  This post is for you. 

Since 2007 I have been doing some form of this strategy when either losing or maintaining.  If you look around the various dietary communities, you'll see a common theme.  Of course there are always exceptions, but those who struggle with falling short of goals and/or maintaining their losses while remaining (largely) true to their dietary framework, almost invariably fall into the food substitute trap.  The problem with many of these foods is that they:

  • Remove any "magic" that eliminating certain foods or food groups has on reducing ad libitum caloric intake.
  • Can cause increased intake of foods with a "health halo" (e.g. it's fill-in-the-blank so it's "healthy" ... heck, I can even eat that for breakfast!)
  • Are rarely as good as the "real thing", ultimately leaving you with some degree of dissatisfaction and deprivation.   
  • Often contain more calories than the foods they are replacing

All of the above hold for various dietary paradigms.  The last bullet point is especially true for those following various low carb ones. 

With all of this in mind, first up, my FREE Carb Sanity Academy tips for getting through the rest of 2017 without messing with your goals.   (And then the snarkasm 😎)

1.  Tough Love ~ Stop the Excuses:

Today is the 30th of October which means there's just a little over three weeks until Thanksgiving.  Sorry just because some retail establishments have extended Christmas decorations and such into this month is no reason for you to extend the excuse-fest that is the holidays across several months.

There are 60-some-odd days between now and 2018.  Just how many of these days are actually going to be celebratory occasions involving food?  

Stop using the holiday *season* as some recurring/extended Day Pass from your healthy weight "house".  

Let me coin an acronym and call those days where you really would rather not concern yourself with any of it  FEVs:  Food Entertainment Vacations.    It's tempting to see a few such opportunities on the horizon and before you know it rationalize how there's no use taking breaks in between.  More likely you let your hair down on Thanksgiving, it bleeds through the weekend, and maybe you have a work party or two within the next few weeks and just don't see the point in trying to stick with your plan.

Excuses.  There's just no need for it.  But you can still have those short vacations!

2.  Rethink ~ It's NOT a Season

Building on Point 1, think about this.  Even if you can conjur up two weeks worth of "obligatory"  FEV days between now and the new year, that still leaves seven weeks that aren't.  That's more than a 3:1 ratio of days you have to play with and adjust for your buzzing food social life.  In reality, chances are there are fewer than 14 full days worth of food entertainment in the remainder of this year, but even if we work with that rather high number, it can still be managed. 

There's a lot of wisdom to the various mantras along the lines of "it's not what you eat on XYZ day, it's what you eat the other 300-something days of the year. 

So repeat after me:  The next few months include a few-to-several days of celebratory occasions involving food.  It's NOT a culinary season!

3.  Take Back Your Power!  There's No Dietary Magic

I get that every diet plan, or WOE (Way of Eating) or whatever you want to call it, requires some sort of gimmick to "sell".    This has been magnified to the nth degree by the explosion of the internet communities on the background of an increasingly obese and desperate populace.  But at the end of the day, there is no single or even global philosophical magic to any of it.  I don't care if you're a carnivore or a vegan, low carb, low fat, gluten free, nightshade free, dairy free, grain free, pescatarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian, paleo, primal, potato head, fat head, whatever.  The omnivorous human species is capable of surviving and thriving on a variety of foods in seemingly infinite combinations and relative isolations.  There's no magical macro ratio, and few (if any!) minimal nutrient intakes in the context of a calorie-sufficient *food* supply.  (Unless you have some underlying borderline nutrition deficit to begin with, you will not become deficient, or anywhere near so, in anything over the course of a few days or even weeks!).

This is absolutely not meant to say that habitual food choices are irrelevant.  Quite the opposite.  If you are truly healthy on whatever your habitual diet is, I'm not here to challenge your choices (though I will never stop questioning the wild "scientific" claims made by many to justify said diets).  Rather, if your habitual diet has you in a state of good health, then occasional excursions beyond those foods will not be detrimental to your long term health*.

Every culture has its feasts (and diet gurus would do well to not base dietary recommendations on the content of these!), and when you ask modern day centenarians, there are at least as many who engage in what some dietary tribe or another would deem "bad" foods -- either from time to time or even habitually, as not.  We've all seen the "this man ate bacon every day and lived to 103" stories. 

Building on this, many of us who are ensnared at some point by "diet mentality" become conditioned to giving food power over us.  It's a self-fulfilling prophecy thing.  Somewhere along the line our relationship with food was broken.  For me this occurred in my late teens, and it took the better part of 20 years to fix that aspect fully!  But just as no single food or food component has some unique power to fatten you, no single food or food component has some unique power to *make* you overeat it.  It's a psychological thing, not a physiological one. **   There are definitely "more-ish" foods, there are foods that are easier to over-consume than others, but ultimately you can control this, it just may take a little de/reprogramming of the thought patterns around food and/or some strategizing.

* Obvious caveat #1:  If you have a legitimate allergy or disease I'm not talking to you.  If you're allergic to peanuts or eggs or shellfish, you should not eat those things.  Celiacs should not ingest gluten, phenylketonurics should limit phenylalanine, etc.  But no, diabetes (either type) is not like any of these conditions.   

** Obvious caveat #2:  There are clearly physiological states leading to extreme hunger and consumption, but realize that such conditions would result in overeating (hyperphagia) of any foods.

4.  Weigh Yourself  & Make a Pact

There simply is no single better piece of information that you can employ to help you in this endeavor.  IT IS JUST A NUMBER.   Come at me with all your excuses and reasons for why you don't want to do it.  Get on that friggin scale and make a pact with yourself as to what it will say come sometime during the first week in January 2018.  Don't have one?  Buy one.  Don't want to know?  Ask yourself why not.    You can "but but" on this one all you want.  It fluctuates, I still lost inches even though the scale read the same, it's water weight, yada yada.  None of that will be an excuse any more if you weigh regularly and get to know yourself.  Do it in the morning, after your initial eliminations, nekkid or in the same light weight clothing (no shoes!).  Invest in a good digital scale if your scale is wonky.  

Whether you choose strategies below (or design your own) that are more or less structured, whether you formally track calories or not, you'll know it's working and you're on track by that number on the scale.  If you've been weighing regularly, you'll know what kind of slack to cut yourself (point of reference, my range is +/- 3 lbs).    You might even just surprise yourself and find you haven't gained after an FEV!   Continue to weigh yourself regularly (point of reference, for me this is usually around twice a week, M/T and Th/F are most common).

If you're still not keen on weighing yourself, consider this:  Whether you know your weight or not, if you've gained 10 lbs, you've gained it.  The easiest way to backslide is to have "no idea" until you step on the scale and see it up by 15 or more pounds.  Then you have not only the pounds to deal with but the regret, the frustration, and all the other mind messing that goes on.  I put "no idea" in quotes, because you darned well had an idea by the way your clothes fit, etc. ... you were just rationalizing.   Know what you're dealing with and you'll be able to deal with it better.

Be honest with yourself.  You CAN do this!

5.  Strategize ~ CICO to the Rescue!

And now, with all that said, let's lay out a strategy, shall we?

Perhaps in past years your scenario around the holidays has looked something like this:  Beginning sometime around Thanksgiving and on through New Years, you've had family gatherings with holiday meals, and various parties and dinners to attend.   Depending on where you work, there will be other food offerings around the office and such.  Apparently if you're typical, this season of overindulgence may even start as early as October!  When it's all over, you need to "buckle down" and face the music of 5, 10 or even more pounds gained.

But to Point 2, it's not a season per se.  It's a series of what can and *should* be treated as isolated occasions, rather than a blurring together of these days into a this season of letting your proverbial hair down.   (And can we get rid of the whole birthday month nonsense too?!)  

Look back at past years, and now at your current calendar such as you know it, and make a plan.  
  • Realistically, how many days do you foresee involving food celebrations?   
  • How many of those days would you rather not have to think (or at least think so hard) about your food choices?  True FEVs.
  • How many can you realistically fit in with whatever your current "plan" is and/or fit in with your current maintenance calories?  (Here is where intermittent fasting shines brightly!)
  • What can you do the other 60-some-odd days to offset this?
Here's a hypothetical for the month of November for someone who preps food for Thanksgiving and likes to enjoy left overs and entertain out of town family visiting for the holiday.  Out of 30 days, H realistically wishes to enjoy 5 free days around that holiday, perhaps not all 5 need to be total FEVs, but let's say they are.  This still leaves 25 days.  Let's say that H ends up consuming 1000 more calories per day on those free days, or 5000 calories in surplus.  So here are some options ... any of the following:
  • Cut out liquid calories if they are a significant contributor:  alcohol, sugar and/or cream in coffee/tea, sodas, juices, etc.  This may actually be enough for some!
  • Cut 5000/25 = 200 calories per day on other days.  
  • Eat 1000 calories in deficit (perhaps PSMF + leafy greens?) for 5 out of the 25 days.
  • Go on a "normal diet" of 500 calorie/day deficit for 10 days.
  • Do an every other day diet of normal intake and 400 calorie deficit.
  • Do a week or two of pretty much any "challenge" -- preferably one that is dissimilar from how you currently eat.  For example if you're usually low carb, maybe try a potato diet.  If you're usually low fat, do Atkins induction ... etc.  This should result in a spontaneous caloric reduction.
... the possibilities are considerable and varied, they can be combined and altered to your personality and tastes, but you get the picture.  Figure out for yourself what works.   Any of the above will bring H into December breaking even.  One can envision any number of strategies and scenarios in which H actually loses weight.  But whether you're in maintenance or actively trying to lose weight, breaking even instead of backsliding is a very realistic goal, and won't require too much in the way of off-setting to achieve.

Breaking even is NOT failure.  It is success!  If you're trying to lose weight, it's maintenance 

6.  Enjoy the Day(s)!

A lot of this battle many of us have with our weight ends up boiling down to mind-games with food and situations. Rarely is it largely physiological, and for those of us who have been a certain level of obese, to attain a normal weight we've reduced intake by a substantial amount for a considerable, sustained, amount of time.  Yes, even if you don't acknowledge that this is exactly what you've done, purposefully or not.    So here's my advice for enjoying your FEVs:

Timing the FEV:   

For so many of us, the holiday season scenario unfolded in the past as a period of celebration/enjoyment (and excuses to indulge when not "required" because "the season"), followed by a day of reckoning and resolve to do better in the New Year.  The impending doom of having to return to good habits (or start over, or worse) can lead to overdoing it even more while on your FEV.  So flip the order of things.  Whatever the strategy for offsetting FEV calories, do it in advance!  Imagine two scenarios:

Consume 1000 or even 1500 surplus calories on Thanksgiving Day.  This requires the old "loosen the belt" after dinner, feeling stuffed.  The next day, you're staring at left overs feeling like you really shouldn't be eating them.  But you probably do anyway and since that day is "blown" end up consuming in surplus again that day.  Even if you're beyond the whole guilt-over-food thing, you're still not feeling so great.  More likely you're feeling bloated and your clothes are a tad snug from some water weight that came along with any real weight/fat you may have taken on.


Tighten up the diet before Thanksgiving Day and go into the holiday a few pounds down, clothes fitting nicely, perhaps even on the loose side.  Having been eating less leading in, you're likely to eat less on that day to begin with because a normal amount now seems like more.  But even if you still eat those 1000-1500 surplus calories that day, you wake up the next morning feeling normal, and you partake in some left overs or maybe even in that piece of pie you couldn't fit in the day before.  Your clothes fit fine and there's no "yuck" feeling (or at least it's minor compared to the above scenario).

In the end, the same FEV/Offset foods and calories are involved, but there are different psychological outcomes, and just generally how you feel.  Most importantly you will enjoy the FEV without that voice in the back of your head reminding you that you will have to "pay" for this sooner or later.  You've already successfully paid!

Eat "Improperly" on Your FEV ...

... or at the very least, don't sweat it if you don't eat "proper" meals  As a veteran dieter who read more than her fair share of "tip" articles in women's rags back in the day, I can attest that most of the advice from such magazines generally stinks.   These tips typically include some or all of the following:
  • Don't skip breakfast.  You will just get hungry later in the day
  • Don't skip lunch.  You will just be even hungrier later in the day
  • Have a snack before going to your party, or even eat dinner ... because you don't want to actually be hungry at an event where there will be food -- often a meal -- served.
  • If there will be adult beverages, eat more ahead of time.  This way you'll still consume the alcohol calories but not get the slightest buzz.
There is also the spoken or unspoken idea that each and every day of your life, your intake must be "balanced" and nutritious.  If all this fasting stuff going on lately is good for anything in terms of a message to the general populace it is this:  nutrition is not an emergency, and you will not suffer any ill effects if you don't get your fill-in-the-blank needs on any given day or even week.  

Instead, try eating no, or as few, calories before the occasion as possible.  If you really feel like you're going to pig out in an embarrassing fashion (perhaps seek help as to why, this is not normal) if you somehow allow yourself to get too hungry, then have some baby carrots or similar snack before heading out to your event.  This boils down to simple calorie math.  If you're going to a cocktail party, who says you can't make your dinner out of various hors d'oeuvres and a few drinks (adult or otherwise)?

If you want to eat a day's worth of calories, and then some, of ice cream, corn dogs, cookies, bacon, lasagna, cheesy biscuits, pancakes, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, chips and dips ... you name it ... why not?  Seriously.  Why not?  There is no rule that says you can't.   Don't go adding a salad (with dressing!) to feel better cuz you ate some veggies.  By the way, I'm absolutely NOT advocating an all out binge here.  I think I've written enough over the years about how quickly the calories in certain foods can add up, and if you need proof of how easily you can tally up a day's worth of calories, just Google your favorite family restaurant nutritional information.  The point of strategic planning is so that you can overdo a little without negative consequences.  If it's dinner out, go ahead and enjoy a calorific appetizer, take home some entree and order a dessert instead!  With this in mind ...

Skip the Usuals on Your FEV

Getting this back on a Thanksgiving theme, nothing is more annoying to me than diet advice for this one meal a year.  No ... I will not fill my plate up with all of the "healthy" (as defined by whatever dietary ideology the advice-giver is espousing) options available and either forego or have just a bite of one or two of the "bad" foods.   A favorite memory of my brother is when he was asked once if he wanted more green beans at a holiday dinner.  His response was:  "No, I can get that s#!t at home!"    I can have turkey any time, it's nothing special to me.  Stuffing is another story, and I'm not shy about having a nice serving of it.  My sister's pecan pie makes an appearance once a year.  I'm having my slice! 

If you want to eat "the usuals", go ahead, just don't feel obligated to.  You're on "vacation".   At the end of the day, whether you ate 1500 calories of foods that are usually "on plan" and 500 "off" or the other way around, it's all the same on balance.  But there can be a huge difference in how much you enjoyed the day.  I'm not saying anyone needs to eat "crap" or "indulgently" to enjoy themselves.  What I am saying is that the power of a true *vacation* from it all cannot be underestimated (and indeed may not be well understood by anyone who has never struggled with their weight or had to put in the work to lose substantial pounds).    It can be exhausting always feeling like you have to be perfect in your food choices or you're doomed.  I'd liken it to the introvert who is thrust into a series of non-stop social situations.  They need a breather of a day alone.  Such a person will likely get more from one day of complete solitude, than they would from several days of even nominal social interaction.   

Some Final/Personal Thoughts:

In proof reading this post, the thought comes to mind that all of this strategizing seems like a whole lot of work for a few moments of enjoyment.   I can see how it might seem that way.  If you experiment a bit, you'll find what works for you, and it won't be complicaed.

For my part, it is rarely structured.  I generally don't eat much if anything during the day on FEV days (just don't call it IF, if I'm hungry I eat a little something) and most of the time, I just can't eat more than a day's calories even in one restaurant meal!  Visiting (and especially staying with) relatives is trickier because food is quite literally always being served and/or offered.  I know myself enough by now that I just watch things at the other times.  When we travel by car we have a hotel bag with us at all times.  It has two of those giant soup mugs, a set of disposo tupperware, utensils, soy sauce, a travel size of my fave seasoned salt, and a shaker of my favorite steak seasoning.   Also some 100 cal microwave popcorns.   Pretty much every hotel we stay at has a fridge and micro in the room, so any off days are easy between steam in bag veggies & rice, those single serve microwave potatoes, and/or canned soups.  Cheap, easy.   I am almost never without a bag of baby carrots when traveling, a perfect snack that travels well with or without a cooler.

I'm very big on the pre-emptive offset.  My "holiday season" is more about a busy November (two family birthdays and our wedding anniversary in addition to T-giving) and January (another two family birthdays, one in Canada, usually a vacation, and old calendar Christmas with family).    Last year I basically *dieted* through to Christmas Eve, and come January was even down a couple of pounds.  This year has been one of trying to hold ground following my and husband's surgeries and recoveries.  So, I started my offset two weeks ago.  My goal is that come Jan 2, 2018, I'll match my Jan 2, 2017 weight.  I may fall short of that, but it won't be a failure.  I know just trying will be the best prevention against gaining.  I don't get hung up on calendars much, but sometimes it can be helpful to set goals. 

πŸ—πŸΈπŸ§πŸŽ‚πŸΊπŸ¬πŸ’Cheers πŸ’πŸ¬πŸΊπŸŽ‚πŸ§πŸΈπŸ—
to a very happy and healthy remainder of 2017!

And now ... the snarkastic part!

A lot has happened this past year. Near as this outsider can figure, the (Dr. Eric Westman's franchise)  "HEAL Ambassadors" on parade at KetoFest this past July, got disrespected and taken advantage of by HEAL and the KetoFest organizers. They did all the work and apparently got none of the money. Jimmy Moore, who was supposed to be at Ketofest and a HEAL event speaker, was not there.  He claimed travel fatigue, but I'm beginning to think this was not entirely his idea.  I'll admit, since I was originally a  Kickstarter backer of KetoFest -- so that I could attend the VIP dinner -- I thought for a brief time, I may have scared Jimmy off.  In the end, I did go to the area as I had an occasion with friends there that coincided.  I met with Dave Feldman and was going to go to that HEAL event, but had better things to do with the time (jacuzzi tub) and $50 (outlet shopping!).   But I got my money back on the VIP dinner as it made no sense without the chance to meet the big kahuna in person!

In any case, shortly thereafter, Keto Clarity Academy was born, the paraders became Keto Crusaders, and Keto Clarity became the "bible".  After an anticlimactic launch of overpriced "educational" products you can get for free on all corners of the internet, the worker bees turned their attention towards surviving Halloween.  What?  As someone who has struggled with my weight for decades, that holiday was barely even on my radar.  We were promised Melanie Miller as Richard Simmons flanked by the worker bees:  KCA's Director of Student Relations Cara Lloyd (brunette), and KCA's Director of Education (and an Instructor) Michelle Dorsey (blonde).  The worker bees were there, but the Low Carb Po Po showed up instead.  (Public links to images here and here.  Here's a link to a video from this debacle for anyone interested:  Keto Clarity Halloween 2017 Event.)

So there were free samples of Keto Chow passed out, an All You Can Eat Buffet was served for those who wanted to partake, and a disappointing number of $5/head attendees received tips on how to survive Halloween (hint: eating "keto" snickerdoodles and Kookies).  Well, good luck with that on Tuesday!  Almost forgot, one lucky guest won a basket full of Jimmy's left over freebies. 

Or ... you could just avoid candy entirely unless you have small kids.  This applies not only to most of those in attendance there, but roughly a decade of trick or treating to handle as a parent.  The rest, just pass it by or work it into your plan.  I fully expect some bowls of little candies to be out at my work next week, and I'll either grab one or two of those mini candies -- if they have Snickers or Butterfingers because I like those for a treat -- or not, and there's no reason anyone needs to fret or sweat over such encounters with candy!! 

screenshot from here
Now, fresh off of the [SNARKASM] resounding success [/SNARKASM] of this event, Jimmy Moore and Melanie Miller will be hosting an event at this same venue for 125 lucky people.  According to speakers at the Halloween event held on October 12, Jimmy's first visit to the area sold out in 24 hours.  As I finish up this post, there are still spots available for this free event.  Perhaps people are catching on? 

It's telling that no complete account of any of these 100 lb weight loss success stories are chronicled on the website.  Perhaps it's because Melanie's skillz taking "from above" selfies are finally backfiring, as current videos and pictures taken by others are posted alongside on her own wall.  They also belie claims of her 100 lb weight loss.  Yes, she's lost weight, but not that much, and has made no progress in a year despite her own statements last year of having some 50 more pounds to lose.

Ladies, put down the Trenta Starbucks with a [COUGH COUGH] "splash" [/COUGH COUGH] of heavy cream.  Stop with the meatless pizza parties where each slice probably doubles the calories in a regular slice.  For crying out loud wake up and realize that "all you can eat" is not conducive to weight loss support.  Continue with your support groups, but just no ... in no way is Keto Clarity some sort of book on which to model a weight loss program, and in no way are any of you qualified to do so in any sort of paid capacity. 

If you're reading this and even remotely inclined to join this KCA circus, do your social media research.  Then find a coach -- in person or online -- who has some training and expertise to help with whatever you need.   Most importantly check out their references and verifiable testimonials -- their ability to help clients achieve real results.  Don't waste money on a bunch of pap and "instruction" you can get for free any day from literally hundreds of places. 


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