Cruise Control: Holiday Food and Health Tips From a Celebrity Trainer

Winter is coming—which means endless holiday gatherings and parties, family meals and delicious foods. And while we’re excited to dig into the pumpkin pies and potatoes au gratin of the season, if you’re anything like us, you’re worried about what all that rich food is going to do to your hard work in and out of the gym over the last year.

Celebrity trainer and health expert Jorge Cruise shares his top tips for enjoying—but not overindulging—this season, plus how to keep your digestion on track when the rich food wreaks havoc on your gut.

The holidays are coming, any tips for healthy eating during this season of rich food and holiday meals?

The holidays are filled with loved ones, traditions and the most delicious foods. Overeating during the holidays is one of the easiest ways to pack on those extra pounds you worked so hard to lose throughout the year. Let’s paint a picture here: You get to your family’s house and you are incredibly hungry. You sit at the table where you see all your favorite foods. The smell is invigorating. You grab a plate and pile everything on one by one.

I will provide you three of my biggest tips to help prevent this from happening.

Tip No. 1

Eat one serving per meal during the holidays. Once it’s time to serve yourself a plate of food, make sure half the plate is filled with vegetables and leafy greens. Next, you want to grab about a palm size of protein, and add a generous amount of healthy fats like avocado or olive oil.

Tip No. 2

Have a really healthy salad or meal before heading to your family gathering. This will help curb your appetite so you don’t eat everything in sight.

Tip No. 3

Drink a ton of water. We tend to mistake hunger with thirst. So whenever you are hungry, make sure you drink 8 to 12 ounces of water or more and wait a couple of minutes to see if you are still hungry.

How do you motivate yourself to eat healthy every day—especially during the holidays? What are some practical ways I can set myself up for success to eat healthy this season?

Eating healthy is really easy for me because it helps me feel good and gives me energy. I try not to eat anything unhealthy because when I do, I feel tired and fatigued.

One practical way you can motivate yourself to eat healthier is to swap out your current foods with organic, gluten-free, grass-fed foods. I don’t recommend throwing all your food away at once because that would be wasteful, but just swap them as they run out. Once you have done this, I would pay close attention to which section at the grocery store you buy food. You want to buy the majority of your food in the outskirts of the market. This is where you will find all the fruits, vegetables, nuts, proteins and cheese. You typically want to avoid the center of the grocery store because that’s where all the processed, sugary foods are. It’s so important that you make a conscious decision to buy healthy foods at the market because you are less prone to eat something at home that is not in your refrigerator or pantry.

My digestion has been super wonky after all the holiday food, any tips for better digestion?

Food is truly medicine, and what you put into your body makes an incredible impact on your overall wellness. Your digestive tract hosts as many as 2 trillion microbial genes. These genes are gut bacteria that shape your appetite, metabolism, allergies, neurological health and metabolism. So the truth is you truly are what you eat. If you want to help those microbial genes in your stomach, then eat organic and fermented foods and take a probiotic with the highest [colony-forming unit] count.

Probiotics are the gut’s good bacteria that aid in proper digestion and strengthen our immune system. Foods like cottage cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, Parmesan cheese and probiotic supplements all support the gut’s healthy bacteria. Studies show that probiotics have the highest survival rates 30 minutes before a meal, with a meal or with a beverage containing fat.

I want to try intermittent fasting, but I’m not sure where to start, especially around this busy and food-filled holiday season—any tips or recommendations?

If you want to start intermittent fasting and you are not sure where to start, I would start by choosing an eating and fasting window that works with your schedule. Generally, I recommend my clients fast for 16 hours and eat for eight. For example, if you work 9 to 5 and your lunch break is at 12 p.m., then I would recommend fasting from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. During the fasted state, you should not be consuming anything outside of water or my Cruise Control coffee or tea. You can find my Cruise Control coffee and tea recipes in my upcoming book “The Cruise Control Diet: Automate Your Diet and Conquer Weight Loss Forever,” which will be released next April. During the eight-hour eating window, you should eat high-fat foods, vegetables and a small serving of protein.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Jorge Cruise