The holidays are a time for celebrating and feasting. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy some great meals and stick to your Paleo diet. It’s easy to lose sight of your health and nutrition goals this time of year. However, you don’t want to start the new year having to begin from scratch. Let’s look at some tips to maintain your healthy lifestyle and Paleo diet right through the holiday season.
Host Your Own Paleo-Friendly Dinner
The simplest way to make sure a meal is Paleo is to cook it yourself. If you have a partner or friends who can help, so much the better. Another option is to make it a potluck where everyone brings a dish. This isn’t always practical for traditional family celebrations but it can be fun for parties among like-minded friends. In this case, even people who don’t normally share the same diet can bring a dish that’s appropriate for the occasion.
Communicate Your Needs
If you’re attending a holiday dinner at someone else’s home, let them know about your dietary restrictions. People are getting increasingly used to accommodating different diets such as vegan, gluten-free and, yes, Paleo. Not all hosts are amenable to making special preparations for you. Your grandmother who’s been making the turkey with stuffing the same way for 50 years might not want to alter her recipe just for you. In these cases, politely refuse anything that isn’t suitable. If you know that the Paleo offerings will be limited, you can even bring something with you. The key is to communicate in a non-confrontational manner with people so it doesn’t look like you’re insulting their cooking or trying to convert them to your diet.
It’s up to you whether to stay 100% compliant with your Paleo diet through the holidays or to make some exceptions. You might, for example, decide to compromise for one traditional family dinner and eat the non-Paleo stuffing, mashed potatoes, and dairy-rich desserts. Even then, you can always stick mainly to healthy foods and just take small samplings of everything else. Most holiday dinners contain lots of dishes and people are unlikely to notice the quantity of each item you consume. Whether you decide to stay true to your Paleo diet or compromise for certain occasions, stick to your decision and don’t feel guilty or apologize for it.
In addition to your diet, it’s important to keep up with exercise during the holidays. If you’re eating more than usual, you need to burn off those extra calories. Make sure you schedule workouts between all of your shopping, meals, and parties. If you don’t currently have a regular workout schedule, the holidays are a good time to start. Many people join gyms in January to keep their New Year’s resolutions but why not get a head start and join now?
Paleo-Friendly Holiday Foods
Popular holiday dishes cover a wide spectrum when it comes to healthiness and Paleo-friendliness. In many cases, it all depends on how you prepare the food. Here are some suggestions for food and snacks for the holidays.
- Grass-fed Meat and Poultry -If you get your meats from organic sources, it’s suitable for a Paleo diet. Typical supermarket meats, however, are usually from grain-fed animals and don’t make the mark.
- Stuffing – Many holiday meals are served with stuffing. Unfortunately, most stuffing is made with bread from grain flours. However, you can just as easily make stuffing with alternative ingredients such as mushrooms, almond flour, sweet potatoes, and other Paleo-friendly ingredients.
- Sweet Potatoes – A delicious staple at all holiday meals. While white potatoes are not Paleo due to their starchiness and high-carb content, sweet potatoes are.
- Veggies – Many vegetables are fine for a Paleo diet provided you don’t cover them with butter or sauces containing dairy. Squash, broccoli, avocado, cabbage, mushrooms, and cauliflower are some nutritious vegetables to serve at your holiday meals. Dressings and sauces made from oil and vinegar are Paleo-friendly, as is salsa and any sauces made from almonds, walnuts, and other nuts.
- Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkins are a healthy and tasty food that’s often ruined with dairy and refined sugar. A pumpkin pie made with ingredients such as almond milk and sweet potatoes is just one example of a delicious Paleo dessert that’s perfect for the holidays.
You Can Have a Healthy Holiday Season
These are some ways to get through the holidays with your Paleo diet and lifestyle intact. The specific strategies you employ depend on your circumstances, including your social obligations and how open the people around you are to healthy eating. No matter what your situation, there’s no reason that the holidays have to mean giving up on your goals and principles.