Renegade Health Radio 36: Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Wednesday Nov 26 | BY |
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In this episode:

  • One easy exercise switch you can do tomorrow to easily offset the holiday weight gain that plagues most people. 5:55
  • Understand how your blood sugar and the timing of your meals play together to determine how much unwanted fat you’ll store when eating a meal, particularly holiday-sized meals. 7:11
  • Learn a few simple tips on how to eat and live during the holidays that won’t leave you scrambling for New Year’s resolutions immediately after. 8:52
  • How to easily navigate the holiday dining table and determine what to eat and how much to feel your best. 12:22
  • Hear Kevin share a few simple recipe ideas that you can bring for yourself and your family to share that taste great and are actually good for you. 14:33
  • Learn how to make a delicious raw recipe that is great for the holidays. They won’t even know it’s healthy! 17:44
  • Hear a few gift ideas that the health-orientated person on your shopping list will love. 20:08



Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. This is Kevin Gianni with Fredric Patenaude. Fred, I have news.

Fred: Yeah, I was going to say this, because you’ve been kind of out of action for a few weeks, Kev. What happened?

Kevin: Yeah, I know. Well we pride ourselves for doing podcasts on time and all the time and unfortunately these last two weeks for you guys we had to stop, but fortunately for me is that I am a new father.

Fred: Congratulations, Kev.

Kevin: Yes, thank you. Basil Rose Gianni. It’s a girl!

Fred: It’s a beautiful name and I’m really happy for you. So I speak for all of our listeners right now. I mean, yeah, this is exciting!

Kevin: It is. You know, the first one was super exciting and this one is just as equally as amazing as the first time around. The Basil name was actually really interesting because sometimes you come up with these names and we had a name before that we were just sure that we were going to name our daughter, if we had one. And she came out. It was a home birth. It was a beautiful home birth. She came out and Annmarie and I looked at her and we’re like nope, not the name we chose.

So we had to wait a few days. We just kind of like sat there with her just getting to know her, I mean, as much as you can get to know an infant. They eat, sleep and poop is pretty much all they do. So we came up with two names and we couldn’t decide. We really liked both of them. And so we asked Hudson, and Hudson made a decision for us. It was really cute.

Fred: That’s good. That’s good.

Kevin: Yeah. And weirdly enough I’m getting enough sleep and not too crazy stressed out. Annmarie’s parents are in town so they’re helpful. And then my mom is coming in town in December. I mean it’s really nice. Everything seems to be good so far. Now everything can change in like a day, but everything is really nice. It has been a nice adjustment. I guess the universe gives you the medicine you need and in this case we just needed someone, a new baby who was calm and slept a lot. That’s what we got. We’re lucky.

Fred: So you took some time off. You’re back more or less.

Kevin: Yeah.

Fred: You’re back.

Kevin: And it’s the holidays.

Fred: Well, yeah, I mean we are recording this literally a week before U.S. holidays, so Thanksgiving and then Christmas is going to come soon after. Let’s talk about that, because I mean it’s always a problem for people, like what do you do during the holidays and what gifts do you bring to people and stuff like that. That’s going to be our topic for today.

Kevin: We’ve got some ideas for you. The average person gains 5 to 7 pounds during this period of the year. A friend of mine sent me a picture recently of, you know, those humor ads. You see them on Facebook. Like a humor calendars where like there are these old drawings of people and it says just funny things. I have to show you. I can’t exactly explain what it is, but like e-humor I think is what it is. And it said…it was a calendar date for like November first, and it essentially just said, “I’m already eating like it’s the holidays.”

It was a really funny kind of thing because my friend and I were recently joking that it seemed like we were kind of eating like it was the holidays already, albeit healthy, but still eating like the holidays. So the holidays are coming up. What’s going to happen? What are you going to do? So Fred and I are going to give you some information on how to combat the 5 to 7 pounds that average gets added onto your waistline.

Fred, you have some information, right?

Fred: Yeah. I think there are things you can do that, at least science has shown you that you can do. So there was a study, and I think we mentioned the study previously on the podcast, but the study was done…and it was also mentioned I think in the book, or by the author of the book The First 20 Minutes.

The study was done on three different groups of people. And each group got a breakfast that was largely unhealthy, so too many calories, too much fat, too much of everything pretty much. So a very kind of overeating kind of pattern for the breakfast.

So one group did nothing, they just ate the food. One group exercised for an hour after the breakfast was done, and then one—

Kevin: Oh my God, how long after?

Fred: I don’t know how they did that. Maybe within an hour or two, I don’t know exactly. And then one group exercised before, right?

You can guess a little bit what happened, but of course the group that just ate the food, they saw their health markers change significantly for the worse. So they got insulin problems and they gained weight and everything, and it’s just showing how much this little change for a little while, how much harm it could do.

Then the next group that exercised after—you’d think, okay, you’d burn the calories, but it turns out that they only were able to offset some of the negatives. And the group that exercised before breakfast, they were able to overcome all of the negatives.

I think the reason that happens is when you exercise before, for a significant period of time, or with enough intensity, is you lower your blood sugar. Essentially, it’s like filling up your tank with gas on an empty tank instead of a filled one. Even if you try to burn enough after you still increase your blood sugar so much because you are not starting on an empty tank.

So two recommendations would be (1) if you are going to have a big dinner that night, try to exercise the day of—not think you can exercise it off the next day. Also, the same thing for eating. Rather than to say that you are going to overeat or you are going to have a big meal and then next day you are not going to eat anything, like people normally say they are going to do. Why not instead kind of go on a half-fast or semi-fast or intermittent fasting pattern that day?

So if I am going to have a big meal that night, it’s not like you need to fast completely, but maybe that day you are going to start eating maybe at noon, and then during the day you are only going to have green smoothies or stuff like that. So you are going to start on pretty much an empty tank when you start eating, which you could say, “Well, that’s going to lead to overeating,” but it doesn’t, if you are used to that, if you normally are used to doing some fasting once in awhile. You can still eat reasonably, but you are starting on an empty stomach more or less, and then a lower blood sugar.

So it just…all the studies show that this works to prevent I think a lot of the weight gain and also health problems from the holidays.

Kevin: It’s definitely inspiring to think that you can exercise before and it’ll work out better for you. That’s promising information.

I think that the green smoothie thing is probably one of the most effective things to do on top of the exercise. If you can program yourself this holiday season to have two green smoothies and then eat a regular type dinner, even if you overeat and exercise on those same days, you are going to come out January first not feeling like you have to jump on all those January 1 cleansing programs, all these detox programs. And I think that that’s probably one of the best tips we can give about it, because if you think about it, you are probably going to overeat to some degree, depending on what your description or your definition of overeating is. It’s very hard for someone to have the willpower to go through the whole holiday season without overeating once, right?

If you’re going to do it, you might as well allow yourself to do it once, and then shore up the rest of your eating habits so that you can kind of go through this period where you’re smart and your fluid. So you’re able to adjust and adapt depending on what you do, because maybe that raw pumpkin pie is really delicious and you want another piece. Who knows?

Maybe you want to justify, whatever eating thing that you’ve done with something, maybe you let it go for a day or two and just say, “Hey, I am going to have that, and we’ll see what happens and I’ll pay for the punishment.” But, if you do it and you know that it’s going to happen, the last thing that you can do is feel guilty about it the next day. You give yourself permission to feel great about it. That’s going to be the best for your emotional well being during the holiday season, too.

Fred: Great. So exercise the day of, not the day after, and maybe a little intermittent fasting and just feel good about it. I can add to this.

These are some just personal tips that I use myself. Sometimes people are afraid of certain items on the table that you can possibly eat, and I think the things that lead to overeating are those very complex rich foods that combine a lot of seasonings and fat and carbs all in one tasty package, right?

So I am okay with eating a little bit of extra even white bread or potatoes and things like that, because I know, at some point, you get filled up on those things and you don’t want anymore. But I am more aware of what I put in my body when it comes to the super concentrated foods. And there are certain things that I know that I am not going to be happy if I eat too much of, like the desserts.

I am not really into desserts that much, so I’d rather eat a lot of the meal and then not really feel like eating dessert and maybe only have a taste of it, then fill up on dessert, because I know that’s what leads to actually feeling like crap. I mean that’s just for me. Do you have any tips like that?

Kevin: Yeah, when you are sitting there looking at all the stuff, that one thing that you don’t want to eat or you know is going to be kind of like your kryptonite, just take it and throw it on the floor like when no one is looking and say, “Oh no, oh crap, it broke.”

I’m just kidding. [laughs]

Fred: If there is a dog around, that’s always good.

Kevin: No, but what I recommend is get the greens, get the veggies first. If you are looking at the plate, if you’re looking at the table and you’re looking at your plate, load up on the veggies and the greens, the sautéed greens or the potatoes or whatever veggie plate is first, and then you can look at like say if you have stuffing or meat or something like that, put that around it, but make sure that you just load up your plate with all the salad and everything first, the greens, the vegetables first, so then there’s really no other room for you to put all the rich things.

And probably the same with dessert. If there happens to be fruit or if you bring fruit, put the fruit down first and then see how the rest of the things fit on your dessert plate. It’s going to work out better for you, I promise you.

Fred: Yeah, I mean it’s one thing, one principle that I’ve used also is…it’s not going to work for everybody, but sometimes you can eat before you go somewhere. Like eat healthy foods. Like you have a big salad or you have some fruit or something before you show up somewhere so you don’t arrive absolutely ravenous.

I know that kind of goes against what I said with the fasting, but I meant fasting during the day, but it’s okay if you have a piece of something like healthy like a salad or a smoothie so when you show up you’re not, you don’t feel like eating everything.

I’m going to give you an example. My aunt invites us the day after Christmas for sort of a brunch party. And I know now that it’s going to be way too much food, because she brings course after course after course, so I know now from experience that the first things that come I am not going to eat too much of them, because I know there’s a lot more coming anyway, right?

If you show up hungry, I mean you’re going to eat more. That’s just the way it is. And all the studies have shown this. If you eat like a salad or a soup before your meal or even an orange or something like that, you’re going to eat less.

Let’s say your salad or your orange was worth 100 or 200 calories, well, you’re going to eat 100 or 200 fewer calories of the bad stuff during your meal or anything actually, so it’s just one trick that really works.

Kevin: Inevitably, you’re probably, in most cases, you’re going to go somewhere or you’re going to be at your house and either you are going to bring something or you are going to want to have something, so a couple of tips for things that you can bring.

Obviously the sweet potato casserole is always a good one that can fill you up and can be healthy. Obviously if you are raw you wouldn’t want to do this, but anyone who is keen on sweet potatoes, this is a great kind of dish. My mom makes something that’s sliced sweet potatoes with a little fresh squeezed orange juice and apples and some raisins and cardamom cinnamon and a little olive oil. That’s a really nice—and I think salt and pepper. It’s a really nice sweet kind of half dessert, half like, you know, really kind of nice side. And that’s a really good one to bring.

And then any sort of sautéed kale salad is going to be delicious. It’s definitely something, massage kale salad, sorry. Yeah, message.

Fred: Does it have to be massage?

Kevin: Yeah, you sign up for the local to have the massage therapist come and give it like a good hour, hour and fifteen minute massage, and then you [laughs]…no, you just put it in hot water and you massage the kale. So it breaks it down a little bit. It’s not as like crunchy or just like rough. It really is a nice way. And then you can add some apples or raisins or cashews and have like a nice warming dressing with a little bit of spice in it and some red onions. That’s a really nice kind of salad that everyone will love.

We used to bring this salad to Annmarie’s family’s house and it was like our thing because it was raw, because that was when we were raw. And by the time the plates got around to us to serve our own dishes the thing was gone. We were just like, “Aw man, that’s what we brought for us!” So we had to kind of like figure out, we had to get like the iceberg lettuce salad and just eat that. So we learned. We made just bigger and bigger ones because everyone loved it. They just didn’t know that they would love it.

Fred: You can make a cooked one, too. I steam some kale without the stem and then chop it up before steaming it, and then my thing is I add some kind of nut butter in it. Drain out the water; add a little bit of like cashew butter and then some seasonings, and it’s just amazing.

Kevin: I think that, Fred, that’s a big tip about eating kale or even collards or Swiss chard or something like that is cutting the stem out of. It makes your experience with those cruciferous vegetables at least three times better.

Fred: I don’t mind the stems from chard personally because they tend to soften up, but with kale, absolutely. I mean kale stems are tough.

Kevin: And bitter. Yuck. I never knew that until like, I don’t know, until like two years ago. When I was eating raw food I was eating the stem and all.

Fred: Yeah, because you were hungry. No, just kidding. Did I get every single bit of fiber I could get?

Kevin: [laughs] Do you have any other kind of dishes or things that you tend to have under your sleeve for this type of…?

Fred: Well, you know, there was one thing I used to make, and sometimes brought just to have something healthy I could eat myself, but I am not going to do that this year. It was nori rolls, you know? Sort of like a raw sushi, vegan sushi with an almond pate, and then you put like almond carrot that are seasoned and so on and it sounds gross, but it’s actually pretty nice in a food…you need a juicer for this. You need a juicer to process the carrots and the almonds and then you create this, add seasonings and so on that creates going to be your rice, so to speak, for the nori. And then you add, you know, you can add a lot of different things. You can add avocados, soaked tomatoes like dried tomatoes and you can add seasonings and all kinds.

That was always very popular with people that are not even into these kinds of things. That’s a good kind of potluck recipe, because not everybody wants raw fish, right? I mean raw fish that you bring in a sushi…but a vegan sushi is something that, or a roll should we say? Because if it has no fish it can’t really be called sushi, but it is popular. So I would even do it with rice, and just have sort of a vegetarian roll, sushi roll, and then that’s popular.

Kevin: Any gift ideas? Healthy gift ideas? Or even just interesting gift ideas? I don’t think we just need to do all healthy ideas.

Fred: Yeah, well I had a…I wrote an article recently for Renegade Health where I gave some gift ideas, but they were all kind of health-minded gifts. Those gifts would only work if, you know, if you are not trying to convert somebody, like if you are giving this gift to somebody who is already into those kinds of things.

For example, let’s say you have a friend that works, that brings their own lunch to work—then the Zojirushi classing bento lunch jar is great. That’s something I own, but I don’t use very often, but it’s awesome because you can keep your food warm and then put colder food at the top of it. And it’s a very kind of cool design. I gave this as an idea.

One thing is a box of bars. It could be protein bars or whatever, but I gave the example of the fruit bars. “That’s It Fruit Bar” that only contains fruit, different kinds of fruit. And it’s cool to have a box. I mean everybody is going to use it, right? It’s not like you could give this gift to somebody and they’re going to be like, “Oh that’s gross.” Everybody likes to have a bar like that around.

Those are kind of universal ideas but other than this, well, I don’t know. What do you think, Kevin?

Kevin: It depends. Again, it depends on if it’s a health person or if it’s someone who you just want to give something awesome to. A great get-together gift for a health person is a Vitamix. So if they don’t have one and you have like five people who want to get someone a gift, like a Vitamix is always going to make someone crazy if they’re into health. I am sure you can agree with that.

Fred: It’s an expensive gift, but if it’s in the budget, absolutely. I mean a Vitamix is, oh my God, yeah, that’s a good gift.

Kevin: It’s almost like the holy grail of gifts for the health person. Again, if you have five friends or five family members and you can get them together and say, “Hey, I totally know what Aunt June wants and she wants a Vitamix,” well then, you can get together and chip in to get it. And that’s a really good gift.

Fred: I have one, too. If someone is into drinking tea, then you can gift them like proper tea ware with a few kind of samples of different teas from around the world. That’s always good. If they like coffee, then an Italian mocha maker by Bialetti is pretty nice, if they don’t have one. I mean there’s not a coffee drinker that doesn’t like the coffee that this thing makes. That is also a popular gift.

Kevin: Yeah, we have a nice teakettle that automatically heats to 165, 170, 175, just based on the different temperatures that the tea needs to be brewed.

Fred: Is that by Breville?

Kevin: I think, yeah, this one is a Breville. We had one before that broke, but the one we have now is a Breville.

Fred: That’s good.

Kevin: It’s a really nice one.

Another thing, you know, again expensive, but you might not want to get a whole set, but Global Knives. These are the coolest knives. These are amazing. And you can get one, like a kitchen knife, like the general overall kitchen knife, and don’t worry about that sound back there, that’s just the trash. You can get one of those kitchen, just like the utility kitchen knife. I think it’s 7 inches or something like that, maybe it’s 9, but these knives cut so amazing.

We actually just got a new set for Annmarie and my, both are like a joint birthday present kind of thing, because we don’t really need anything and we get cards and flowers and stuff like that for each other, and that’s enough for us. But we just got a whole new set of these knives and man they are so amazingly sharp and just so easy to hold and they don’t hurt your hand. They’re amazing.

Fred: Global Knives. I’ve been wanting one for a long time and it’s sort of on my wish list and I haven’t purchased it. I am just putting it out there for people. I am going to give you my address right now. If you want to send me a set of Global Knives, I will happily take it from…any special occasion. I live at—no, just kidding, but you’re right. That’s a gift that, even if you have one, you’re happy to get another one, right? That’s like a no-fail gift.

Kevin: Yeah, and we had an old one that we got maybe six years ago and I thought it was done. I don’t really know that much about knives, and I’m starting to finally kind of like learn how to cook, I’m starting to take some classes and things like that. And it had like little marks in it and I just thought it was done. And we took it to get it sharpened at the grocery store. They do it on the first of every month. And it came back perfectly new. I mean they got all the kinks out of it and it cuts just like the brand new one, and so they last. I don’t even know, these knives could last for 30 years. I have no idea.

Fred: They’re so light. That’s what I like about it.

Kevin: They feel so good. It’s a Japanese engineering.

And then finally, I have one fun gift. This is a fun gift that I found when I was at Best Buy the other day. I needed to go to Best Buy to get a…we have Roku, which is like an Internet TV player, so it really doesn’t play TV but it can play Spotify, it can play Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and that sort of stuff. And so I went to get that, and I was walking by, in the aisle by the TVs, and they had this stand in the middle, and what I saw there was something called Breeze. And Breeze is an iPhone connected breathalyzer. So this is a really fun party gift that you can give someone.

It’s a breathalyzer that you buy. You can buy either one that plugs into your iPhone—and it probably might even go into like an Android phone, too—but it goes into your iPhone, either plugs in, and I think that one is like $49, and there’s one that is Bluetooth enabled where you blow, where you have a separate piece that you can blow into and it can give the amount of alcohol that’s in your body, your alcohol volume.

So it’s a really cool kind of tool. It’s a cool tool, but at the same time it’s actually a really responsible tool because, you know, sometimes there are people in your family who might leave when they shouldn’t. And so it’s kind of a really interesting way to kind of have this holiday kind of fun where if you don’t drink it’s cool too, because you can give it to people who are, and if you do you can keep yourself in check. But it’s a really cool tool to have just to keep the family in check, but also to just like see what levels you’re at.

A funny story about a breathalyzer: Before I had this one, I actually bought another one. And we were sitting around the dinner table and my mom had had a couple glasses of wine, and I said, “Here try this. This is kind of really cool.” At that tine, she had these really big glasses of wine. They were literally like decanters they were so big. And so she had two of those and she blew and she blew a level that she wouldn’t be able to drive. And she was kind of shocked. She was like, “Well I feel okay.” I’m like, well the level here is definitely showing that you probably shouldn’t be driving, and if you did you’d get a DUI.

She was like, wow. She stopped drinking that night. And then the next day we had left for something and we came back and she walked in the house with a new box of wine glasses that were like three times smaller than the ones that she was drinking out of. So it really changed her behavior and probably and definitely for the better. So it was really an interesting kind of experiment.

Again, this is a cool tool. I am a gadget guy so I like this kind of thing. It’s like $99 for the one that is Bluetooth and $49 for the one that’s not. But it’s just a really fun gadgetry funky holiday thing that you can bring to the holiday table and joke around with it.

Fred: Sounds good. So have a healthy Thanksgiving. I am just going to stay in Canada and hear about it because we had our Thanksgiving like a month ago. But have fun in the holidays. Welcome back, Kev. Congratulations again, and yes.

Kevin: Yeah, and if you guys do want to rate this podcast please do so in iTunes. Give us one more rating. I think we’re at 31 or 32. We’d love one more. We’ll just keep…we’re actually not caught up. We should have one for every episode, so help us out guys. Help us out. Bye.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Veronika says:

    “…drop it on the floor” lol. Love you guys.

  2. Irene says:

    Congrats to you both!

  3. Satori says:

    I have a very good friend & his name is Basil too. Congrats Annmarie & Kevin on your baby girl<3

  4. Celia says:

    Congratulations to you both !! Awesome !!!

  5. Peg Bhatara says:

    Congratulations Kevin, Annmarie, and Hudson! I am so looking forward to a picture 🙂

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