Navigating the Holidays Being Paleo
Eating Paleo During The Holidays is Tough
I don’t think anyone would disagree with the statement that the holidays are the toughest time of the year to eat healthy. It’s as if everywhere we turn, work, home, school, TV, these days are inundated with candy, pies, cookies and snacks tempting us at every turn. So the big question is, is it possible to stay Paleo during the holidays? I’m not going to say it’s easy, but yes, you can do it.
The two biggest factors that we have to watch for are foods that contain grains and gluten and the ones that are high in refined carbohydrates that cause blood sugar fluctuations. If we can keep those two culprits in mind then navigating those holiday foods should be easy.
Substituting certain ingredients
Here are a few ideas;
Try a new recipe, something you have never made before. If you are preparing something that usually contains gluten and grains, try the grain free option, like almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour. Many times you will be surprised at just how good some of these foods taste.
Change the way you cook it
If you consider what a typical holiday meal is, many of the foods that we normally eat at these times already fit the Paleolithic model. For example, most of us eat turkey, vegetables and fruits with our holiday meal. These all fit the parameters of a Paleo Diet. We just need to consider how it is prepared. Instead of frying a turkey in inflammatory oils, simply bake it. Stuff it with a mixture of vegetables instead of stuffing, which also adds flavor to the turkey.
Add fat to a dish when possible. Fat cuts the hunger craving and satiate quickly. Examples might include using clarified butter (Ghee), coconut oil or adding some olive oil and cinnamon to mashed sweet potatoes or yams.
Reach for fruits as a desert instead of the typically high sugar cakes and pies.
When eating desert types of food, eat them after a meal. You are less likely to eat as much and if you have followed the other Paleo principles, the amount of sugar in desert will have less impact on your glucose levels. This same idea can be used if you are going to a party. Eating raw vegetables or nuts before you go or while you are there can insure that you do not over indulge.
Take your time
Eat slow. Take the time to enjoy the meal and give thanks. Often we are so in tune with wanting to devour the food in front of us that we miss the enjoyment of the meal. Sit your fork down between bites and savor the food. You probably won’t eat as much if you do this.
A Few Final Tips
Use as many spices and herbs to season with as possible. Many times these might offset some of the undesirable effects holiday food has on you. For example, cinnamon can help promote blood sugar regulation. If you make a pie, try doing it without the crust. This adds a lot of extra carbohydrates to the dish and most of us are after the pie filling anyway.
Lastly, if you steer off course for a meal or even a day, don’t worry about it. It is the sum of all your actions during this time that matters the most. I typically tell my patients during this time of year that I don’t even want to know what they had on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, but the days in between do count. Enjoy yourself, but don’t go overboard and don’t give up your non-dietary health habits like quality restful sleep and exercise.