When some people think of going on the Paleo diet during the holidays, they undoubtedly wonder—Will I be sad staring at the stuffing and candied yams while I eat plain chicken and dry green beans? Will I be setting myself up for failure? Should I just start on the New Year? The answer is NO! You can absolutely enjoy your holiday meals, with the right planning you WILL succeed and there is no better time to start getting healthy than right now. The first step in a successful holiday while eating Paleo is to remember that you have more than enough food options to be both happy and satisfied. Some of my favorite dishes are Paleo (and I’ll provide some recipes at the end of this post)—not only do they taste amazing but they also nourish the body. However, you do have to be careful during this time because there are some sneaky ways that sugar, dairy and gluten can hide in your food. Here are six tips for ttttsurviving the holidays while on the Paleo diet:
- Plan ahead and prepare a few of the dishes yourself.
If you are going to a work party or family gathering where you can’t control the food options, bring your own. Plan ahead—make a roasted vegetable platter, double-stuffed sweet potatoes or a delicious spaghetti squash and ground beef dish. There are countless savory and sweet Paleo dishes that you can bring and show your friends how eating healthy can be delicious, too!
- Tell your family why you are eating Paleo during the holidays.
I’ve always found open communication with my friends and family to being the key in accomplishing my goals. If you don’t tell your family that you are eating Paleo during the holidays, you can’t blame them when they offer you a slice of pumpkin pie with extra whip cream! Chances are, they will be more than supportive and ask you how they can make some of their dishes Paleo, too!
- Set realistic goals and don’t beat yourself up if you slip up.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Paleo diet is that is a black and white, all-or-nothing approach. There is no “Paleo Police” waiting around the corner to write you a ticket if you decide you want to try your Grandmother’s homemade blackberry cobbler. Life is all about balance and moderation. If you decide to indulge, don’t beat yourself up about it. Drink plenty of water and remember that life is too short to regret that dinner roll.
- Remember that your health is the goal.
The Paleo diet, for many, is not a weight-loss diet. It’s an overall health-based diet which aims at improving your quality of life by removing allergens and foods that cause us health-related problems. If you look at food as your medicine and a tool to providing you with the nutrition you need to live a happy life, chances are you will make healthier food choices.
- Eat before any work parties or gatherings where you can’t control the food options.
If you have no control over the food options at a party or gathering (like if it’s being catered or you’re invited to a dinner party that’s being hosted), try eating beforehand. That way, if you are stuck without any solid options, you won’t go hungry and question whether the Paleo diet is right for you.
- Beware the hidden sources of sugar, dairy and gluten.
Sauces, dressings, and marinades are the biggest culprits for a Paleo-diet sabotage. They are often packed with sugar. Skip these and opt for salt, pepper and seasonings for your dishes. Fresh-squeezed lemon goes fantastic with chicken or turkey, and sweet potatoes are really sweet enough without the added brown sugar and marshmallows. Avoid cheesy dishes at all costs, as they are pretty easy to identify. Gluten and flour-based dishes are easier to spot—gravy is often thickened with flour, and dinner rolls, breads and stuffing is usually filled with gluten.