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This week I want to share my tips for getting through the holidays while on the Paleo diet. It can be hard! I've learned after doing this for over 5 years what works and doesn't work, so here is what I suggest:
(1) If you are having dinner over someone else’s house, call ahead and talk to the host/hostess. Explain that you are on a restricted diet and see what they might be planning to make. If it mainly fits within the confines of your diet (like a roasted turkey for example), eat that. Otherwise say you don’t want to impose and that you will bring and/or make your own food. (Making your own food there works if you are staying somewhere else, like at a relative’s house in another state. Otherwise make your food ahead and just reheat). If you really feel strange about doing this, when calling the hostess blame your diet on trying to figure out if you are allergic to something. People are really afraid of food allergies, and they won’t question it as much if you are trying to figure something out like that. If it’s just for weight loss they might not seem as supportive. Sad, but true.
(2) If you are making dinner for others who aren’t Paleo, make things that are naturally gluten-free and Paleo, but don’t make a big fuss out of it. I have found non-Paleo people tend to automatically think Paleo food is inferior, even if it is way more delicious than anything else, but you don’t want to taint it ahead of time with this false opinion. Things like my Beef Tenderloin with Garlic “Cream” Sauce work well as well as the Ginger Baked Pear or Baked Apple recipes. If you have guests that request you make something because of some sentimental tie (which happens a lot around the holidays), cheerfully agree to make it. You don’t have to eat it…
(3) Unless someone outright asks you why you eat the way you do, don’t bring it up. Lead by example, not by a dogmatic approach. People do not like it when you tell them what they are doing is wrong. Especially when they are in the midst of indulging themselves in rich, sugary holiday food. And if someone does ask you, tell them why YOU are eating this way, not why THEY should be eating this way. But I suggest even when you say why you are, do it from a personal health approach, not from a “because X is bad for you”. Even if you really really want your mom to switch to a Paleo diet, being preachy about it is only going to turn her off. Again, like I said, lead by example. If people see your glowing skin, lost weight, amazing energy, etc, they will say “I want some of what SHE’S having”.
(4) If you don’t have a known allergy or sensitivity to something and aren’t actively trying to find out if you do have one, enjoy yourself and eat what you want. Paleo isn’t meant to be some prison that you force yourself into. It is meant to be a way of eating that gets you the most nutrient dense food in a way that doesn’t cause your body a ton of inflammation and chronic harm. A night or two off won’t kill you. Just don’t let a night (or even a few days) of cheating lead you down a downward spiral. Pick yourself back up afterwards and eat cleanly.
(5) This is also a really good time to write down your goal for why you are eating Paleo. Perhaps cutting a few pictures out of a magazine of what you are trying to look like or writing down a list of symptoms you are trying to rid yourself of. This way if you do cheat or need extra motivation NOT to cheat, you can take a look at this list and remind yourself of why you do this. Stick it on your fridge or put it in your suitcase if you are traveling and look at it often. Using a journal for tracking what you eat that gives you prompts for tracking symptoms, sleep, movement, and overall feeling is a great idea during this time and will really keep you going.
These are some great tips and suggestions. I know many people get nervous about trying to eat Paleo at the homes of others. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight with the world!
This is super helpful. It is always so hard to stay on track during the holidays with all the parties and sweets. 🙂
It sure is! Thanks Stacey!
I haven’t been doing the best job of sticking to my paleo goals this month. Taking these tips to heart!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s the holidays! (And not like I can say much after just getting back from a gluttonous, non-stop eating trip to Mexico. Time for ME to get back on track too!)
These are amazing tips that many people will find very helpful this time of year. When I first started Paleo I had similar feelings and fears. Thanks for sharing your great insight and wisdom, hun!
Thanks Kelly. I don’t think people realize that we all have these fears and feelings, but we do, and it’s totally normal!
I totally TOTALLY agree with #4! Unless you have medical reason for avoiding certain foods, practice balance and moderation…if you want! Great read!
This is a great article, and I’ve definitely found #1 to be extremely helpful, I always have to bring something along or I might be the only one at the table not eating, (which is a bummer).
Isn’t that the worst? Somehow you always get hungrier than usual too when you can’t eat anything. Even if you just ate 10 minutes ago, if you go to a party and can’t eat the food, suddenly I’m starving!
I like your no-dogma stance. Most people shut down, leaving little room to actually impose any knowledge on them. We try (really) to do this in our practice.
I unfortunately learned this one the hard way too, and realized how people totally shut down. One big reason I started this blog – I can help people that WANT to be helped and I try my best to not make it sound like the only thing they can do to get healthy.