Winter is almost around the corner. I firmly believe that winter comes with its own layer of Fat with holidays, shorter days, and reduced exercise due to too-cold-to-go-outside weather. A person with fatty liver could thus have problems coping in winter as it seems impossible to choose between indulging in family fun and maintaining a liver-friendly life. I have been in the same boat and here are some tips that will hopefully help take the sting off winter. Hey! They have worked for me and my close relations who have tried. Here is what you need to know about fatty liver diet during holidays.
Winter comes with its own layer of Fat and it almost seems impossible to choose between having fun and saving your liver.
#1. Enjoy With Family In Winter Despite Fatty Liver
Yes, enjoy! Stress makes everything worse and fatty liver disease is no exception. Holidays are about spending time with family, enjoying the traditions, decorating, painting, and playing outside in the snow. Your NAFLD shouldn’t stop you from having fun.
However, as you may have noticed, I did not include “eat a lot” in my activities recommendation above. Why? Because your fatty liver diet during holidays still needs to be liver-friendly. While cooking for the family is a great idea, you should also think of cooking liver-healthy items for yourself. Dig into that chicken or turkey breast but lay off the cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes unless they are cooked in a liver-friendly way (i.e. with sugar substitutes and without butter etc.).
#2. Share The NAFLD News With Friends And Family
Personally, a big challenge for me was the parties. The location didn’t matter – whether at our place or a friend’s or relatives’ place. When there are parties, there are unhealthy food items, there is alcohol and there is pressure to drink, eat and make merry!
Pro Tip: Reveal the condition to your friends and family. Also, have a meal before a party so you are not so hungry that you get tempted. Also, you can request in advance: request for a salad if the rest of menu is not liver-friendly.
I found it really powerful and liberating to just tell my friends and family members about the condition and how serious it is. They stopped pressuring me into drinks and food and let me make my own choices. In fact, some called me ahead of time to put at least one item on the menu that I could eat. My answer? – Salad or cut vegetables of any kind. Most parties have salads and if not, it’s usually easy to add a salad to a catering order or cut up the veggies on your own. Sometimes, I do ask them if they have any “grilled” variety of fish or poultry available on the menu.
#3. Make 3 Good Choices A Day During Winter If You Have Fatty Liver
A friend of mine gave me this advice and it has helped me a lot. He asked me to make 3 good choices a day for 3 meals a day – that’s it! Easy right? & you can do it too! However in practice it gets harder than you think. To help me with the routine, initially, I kept a log and was surprised by how difficult it was to make just 3 good choices per day. Not surprisingly, it got even more difficult to maintain a fatty liver diet during holidays. I would make 2 good choices, but give up on the third. However, as I continued to keep a log, I got better at making three good choices per day.
Pro-Tip: Start with a log, this could be a hanging calendar where you put three check marks – one for each good choice you made during the day. You can even do it on your phone
So just do this and see the improvement. When it boils down to just 3 choices, it gets easier. 3 is a small number. Every time you eat a liver-friendly meal put a checkmark in your log for the day. Seeing those 3 cheks are going to brighten your mood and holiday experience.
#4. More Frequent Cheat Meals Are OK For Fatty Liver Diet During Holidays and Winter
Yes! It’s a festive season. So make exceptions! it is okay to have a few extra cheat meals during the week. Focus on controlling the portions during the cheat meals and do not go more than 2 weeks with extra cheat meals.
Pro-Tip: Controlling the portion and getting back to routine within 2 weeks time is your best bet. Cheat meals are slipperly slope, so get back to max 1 cheat meal a weak as soon as you can.
Pro-Tip 2: For the holiday season, stop calling them cheat meals, call them festive meals. It will reduce the guilt and make them more enjoyable.
#5. Exercise In Blocks Of 10 Minutes & 5 Minutes To Cope With Fatty Liver in Winter
Remember exercise is also important along with maintaining a healthy fatty liver diet during holidays! When I was reversing my Fatty Liver, I found it extremely difficult to maintain my exercise routine during the winter months. I couldn’t go out for a walk, I couldn’t play the sports I usually played and due to the pandemic, Gym was out of the question.
A fitness-savvy friend’s advice saved me! He told me to stop thinking of exercise as this big daily event that I need to go through. He asked me to stop trying to find a 30-minute to 60-minute block of time during my busy day. (Hmm… Somehow days felt busier in winter, I wonder why?).
Pro-Tip: Exercise in blocks for 10-minutes to get 20 minutes a day minimum.
He instead advised me to start thinking in terms of 10-minute blocks. Get 10 minutes of exercise (fast walk to and fro in the hall is still walking) early in the morning. Then get 10 minutes of exercise in the evening. That’s 20 minutes of exercise done! Here is a step-by-step schedule that helped me:
Step By Step Exercise Schedule
Here is a quick step-by-step schedule I strictly followed. Mind you, I made it a point to wake up 10 minutes earlier to fit my morning routine.
- Brisk exercise for 10 minutes during the morning
- Brisk exercise for 10 minutes during the evening
- Find 5-minute blocks of exercise during the day
- Go to your calendar at the end of the day and note the amount of time. I use color-coding:
- Red for less than 20 minutes of exercise in the day (I want to avoid reds)
- Orange for 20 minutes (The day was not a total waste)
- Yellow for 30 minutes (I did enough)
- Green for more than 30 (I aced it!)
At the end of the month, I want to see more greens and yellows on my calendar!
Which Exercises To Do With 10-Minute Intervals In Winter
Oh, so when I started the exercise schedule, I only walked. However walking got boring, so I pivoted and then I got injured, so I pivoted again. As a result, I have developed a big roster of exercises to make the 10-minute intervals fun. Here are 6 of my favorites (remember, you can always do a combination of these as long as you don’t take any rest in between)
- Brisk walking – Just because it is easy to do inside the home. I just did it in my living room.
- Climbing up and down steps – Just because it keeps my joints working
- Jumping Jacks – Love to do them with my 4-year old and they are easy for him
- Jog in place – Can do these while watching my favorite TV Show
- Mountain Climbers – For those days where my knees are hurting
- Jumping Rope (or just jumping in place) – For a change
Here is a highly recommended video I often use: Low Impact Cardio Workout
#6. Stop Beating Yourself Up
Did you Love that pecan pie and had a little extra helping? Had too many cheat days this week? Don’t beat yourself up. It is important to feed forward. Worrying is just increasing stress which is not good for you. Depending on your condition, one or two slip-ups are likely not going to cause harm.
Pro-Tip: Beating yourself up would lead to guilt and stress-eating. Look to improve the next day.
However, it is also important to get back on the diet and exercise wagon and not continue to fall into bad habits. Because bad habits are part of you for a very long time, they do not go away in just 3-4 months of lifestyle change. Keep going back to #3 – 3 good choices every day.
#7. Join A Support Group & Follow Liver-Friendly Influencers
Fatty Liver is the silent epidemic that is plaguing the world. Very soon, it is anticipated that the number of people requiring liver transplants is going to far exceed the number of livers available. It is important to be part of a community that can support each other and to follow influencers in the domain who have been through this journey and can help. Please feel free to join my FB community and YouTube channel and I will keep adding more recommendations to this page.