21st December 2020

The Fast 800 Festive Health Hacks

The end of the year can be a rocky time for many, physically, mentally and emotionally. This, compounded with the availability and temptation of excess food and alcohol, can make for a period that quickly turns into a downward health spiral.

The Fast 800 online programme is designed to empower you with the tools and knowledge to be able to create good habits and make sensible choices long-term. While it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to cruise through fasting days across the festive season without batting an eyelid, here are some strategies to support your body without going backwards…or compromising festive celebrations.

What to Eat

  • Where possible, choose foods that fit the principles of a moderately low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet most of the time.
  • Fill your plate with protein and non-starchy vegetables first, which helps to crowd out available space for that extra Yorkshire pudding or serving of roast potatoes. Vegetarian? Find out how to get enough protein in.
  • Opt for wholefoods first – vegetables, proteins, full-fat dairy, beans and legumes, hard fruits and berries. Find out why so many processed foods are addictive.
  • Focus on satisfying meals, rather than snacking or grazing, which can quickly lead to eating much more throughout the day than you intended to.

Bring these dishes to your festive spread!

How to Eat

  • Plan your festive period in advance to have a better understanding of when you might be indulging, and when it would be more sensible to stick to your meal plan, incorporate a shake or perhaps have a fasting day. This helps to stop one day of “off-plan” eating turn into one month…or longer!
  • Be realistic in what is going to be most sustainable for you. If you’ve been following The Very Fast 800, in the lead up to the festive season, perhaps it’s more reasonable to switch over to The New 5:2 for a couple of weeks to avoid feelings of guilt and failure.
  • Use the festive season to hone in on time-restricted eating, where you fast daily for 12, 14 or 16 hours. This means finishing your evening meal earlier and/or having “breakfast” a little later in the day. Not only can this support good metabolic health, but it provides book-ends to your eating window – boundaries to reduce the likelihood of an all-day graze.

What to Drink

  • On non-fasting days on The Fast 800, it’s okay to enjoy a glass of our preferred alcohol – red wine. While it’s not exactly a health tonic, red wine has slightly more health benefits when compared to other alcoholic beverages. The key things to avoid are mixers like tonic water, juice and soft drinks, which provide an unnecessary blood sugar spike. Sugar-free and “diet” alternatives aren’t much better if they’re reliant on artificial sweeteners, so opt for soda water and some fresh berries or citrus as an alternative.
  • If you’re someone who enjoys an alcoholic beverage, it’s unreasonable to put yourself on a “booze ban” for the festive season if you know you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, drink mindfully and in moderation – find out how. We don’t recommend drinking alcohol on fasting days.
  • It’s advice you’ve likely heard before, but that’s because it’s quite good advice – space your drinks with water. Alcohol often results in increased thirst, so it’s easy to keep drinking without realising the extent of your sugar and calorie intake. Having a glass of water between drinks will help quench your thirst to avoid dehydration and slow down your overall alcohol intake.
  • Our Health Coaches have lots of calorie-free ideas for what to drink during the festive season.

How to Move

  • Don’t use exercise as a punishment for over-indulging or going “off plan”. Instead, grab a loved one and do a quick HIIT workout together to remind yourself of how good it feels to move your body.
  • If the festive season for you means a little more time to do things you wouldn’t normally get to do, use the opportunity to go on some long walks. This is one of Dr Michael Mosley’s favourite forms of incidental exercise. Walking is great if you are exploring a new area or want to show visitors around and just as beneficial to do alone to recharge during what can be a chaotic period.
  • If you’re normally someone who exercises in a gym or with equipment, read how our Health Coaches support their fitness goals at home.

How to Think

  • First and foremost, be kind to yourself.
  • Practising mindfulness can help to reduce stress, keep you focused and give you some much-needed respite during an often overwhelming time. A short morning meditation is a wonderful addition to your routine at any time of year, but particularly now.
  • If you want to support your mindset from the inside, read about how to eat yourself calm.
  • Communicate your intentions to your loved ones and ask that they be supportive during times you’re choosing not to indulge, while reminding them it doesn’t mean you’re going to have a “fun-free” festive season.
  • Focus on one day – or even one meal – at a time. If things go a bit pear-shaped, take it as a learning experience and move on. Health is a long-term game, so rather than giving up if you go backwards, remember that every subsequent small step forwards is one in the right direction.

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