by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Fudge, stuffing, hot chocolate, Christmas cookies – these are just a few of the sugar and carb-laden holiday temptations that can be hard to resist without a carefully planned strategy to keep you on track. If you are tired of having to choose between deprivation and decadence during this time of year, I invite you to learn how to indulge without the bulge. Enjoy the holidays PCOS Diva style. Imagine how it will feel to maintain your weight, health and sanity throughout the holidays and to start the New Year feeling in control, strong and vibrant. You will feel like a PCOS Diva!
These simple strategies will help you to thrive during the holidays when most people around you are floundering:
Identify Your Holiday Memory Food
Sit and take some time to reflect and identify your holiday memory foods. Ask yourself, “What taste brings my memories and emotions to life?” My family has a special milk cracker turkey dressing recipe that has been passed down through the generations. Whenever I take a bite, my grandmother who passed 15 years ago is right there with me at the table. Although not PCOS friendly, it would be unhealthy to deprive myself of that experience. When these “memory” foods are absent from our lives, it is not so much the food we are missing, but the person or the feelings we associate with it. Special holiday foods that remind us of home and family are central to special occasions and rituals. Through food, we are able to maintain a sense of generation and extension. Find one food that really matters and keep it on the menu!
I often find that 3 bites is the magic number. After 3 bites, what I call “The Law of Diminishing Returns” kicks in. The satisfaction and pleasure begins to diminish. Even with these holiday memory foods, practice the 3-bite rule and savor the experience!
Be a Food Snob
“A Diva Has Discriminating Tastes.” This is a mantra I use with my clients. Only eat special holiday food if it is truly delicious. If the food doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and chose something else. Skip store-bought and processed sweets. Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!
Food actually tastes better when you are hungry. So, if you are full after eating dinner, ask the hostess if you can take your dessert home. Have a few bites when you are hungry again and can really enjoy it. Many experts recommend eating before you go to a party so that you are not hungry. While I do think it is important to keep your blood sugar balanced, I don’t think you need a mini-meal. That said, don’t starve yourself before a big holiday gathering either. You will increase your cortisol or stress hormones. Skipping meals creates blood sugar swings as well. Before you go out, have a couple hard boiled eggs, some turkey and a slice of avocado, or some apple and nut butter to take the edge off. You’ll make better food decisions when your blood sugar is stable.
Learn how to say no to food-pushers at holiday parties without apology. Practice a simple, polite but firm “No, thank you.” A confident no response will convince them to back off.
Consume Lots of Fiber
It is easy to avoid holiday temptations when you are eating plenty of fiber-rich foods like grains, veggies, and fruit. Foods high in fiber digest more slowly, so you feel fuller for longer. Refined carbohydrates such as candy, baked goods and sodas may give you a short-term energy boost, but you’ll quickly feel hungry, sluggish and end up craving more sugar. High fiber foods like flax, chia and hemp seeds, legumes, berries, avocados and nuts are all good. Add these to your diet over time since too much fiber too quickly can cause gas and bloating.
Consider taking a fiber supplement like PGX WellBetX. It is a soluble, fermentable, and highly viscous dietary fiber which comes from the root of the elephant yam (also known as konjac). You can take 2 to 4 capsules with a glass of water 30 to 60 minutes before eating. I use PCOS Diva Power Fiber every morning in my power smoothie. Don’t take any medications within 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking it because the fiber may absorb the medication.
Raise a Glass of Wine.
If you are going to imbibe, I suggest that you stick to a glass (or two at the most) of red wine. Research has shown that resveratrol, which is found in red wine, may be beneficial for PCOS. Beer and many hard alcohols contain gluten, which is not good for PCOS. Stay away from sugary martinis and chocolate based drinks. Also, after a few drinks, you might not be as likely to stick to your plan. Your head and your body will thank you the next day if you keep it to a glass of wine with your meal (or even wait for dessert). When you do drink alcohol, be sure to drink 2 glasses of water or seltzer for every glass of wine. For more about PCOS and alcohol, check out “Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol and PCOS“.
Find a Non-Food Indulgence
Don’t put yourself on the Naughty List this year. Take care of yourself. Stress can make your holiday less merry. Biologically, stress causes us to crave sweets and fat because it floods our body with cortisol which alters our insulin levels. Stress weakens our ability to make good choices. Learn how to manage it well. Instead of reaching for food for comfort, reach for ways to soothe yourself without food. Create a “Sweet Stuff” list. The list is different for everyone; perhaps for you it is a soothing tea, a massage, and manicure, time with a book or a walk in the woods.
“Indulgence isn’t a sign of failure; it’s an opportunity to experience pure pleasure.” ~ Terri Trespicio
Make time for self-care this season. Think about what that means for you. For me, it means going to Bikram Yoga, making time to go to the gym, then relaxing in the sauna, or maybe having a mani/pedi before a Christmas party. Look at an occasional indulgence as an important part of your life, a pleasure that you are entitled to enjoy. Be a Diva! What can you consciously CHOOSE to indulge in today that is not food-related? Choose something, and then savor it; really soak it in. Treat yourself, and remember that YOU are worth it!
Indulge, revel and celebrate this holiday season… like a PCOS Diva!
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.