Is this your first holiday season since going Paleo?
Whether you’re participating in our 30-Day Challenge or recently adapted to the Paleo Diet – it can be very difficult to adhere to your new lifestyle during the ‘most wonderful time of the year.‘
December seems to be full of company parties and family get-togethers that are centered around food and drinks. Our culture encourages us to be ‘Merry!‘ and that usually translates into too much sugar and processed ingredients, and not enough sleep or exercise.
If you’re feeling this Season’s struggle and need some guidance to get through the Holiday guilt-free, check out these 5 tips to help YOU stay Paleo:
- Create Awareness
It’s hard for others to be respectful of your new way of eating if they don’t know about it – So tell them! Take the time to talk to your family, friends and co-workers about your new journey with food and how amazing you feel. Let them know how it has improved your life and how important it is to you to continue to live this way. Ask them for their support and who knows – they might end up joining you and trying Paleo for themselves!
- Share Dishes
Pot-luck parties are the perfect opportunity to introduce other people to the Paleo Diet. Not only will this guarantee you’ll have something to eat at the event, you can expose others to the delicious (and healthy!) foods that you get to eat every day. It’s also a great opportunity to have some fun in the kitchen and take the extra time to prepare a more elaborate dish you wouldn’t usually have time for.
- Make Mocktails
The hardest part about staying Paleo during the holiday seems to be the endless flowing river of libations. Overdoing it on the booze can lead to overeating due to loss of self-control and a little thing called a hangover. Too much alcohol over a longer period of time (i.e. the whole Season) can also lead to weight gain. It’s basically completely counterproductive to everything you’re trying to achieve! If you absolutely want something to sip on during a gathering, try making a ‘mocktail‘ – a cocktail without the liquor. Try experimenting with different herbs, fruits and flavors! My personal favorite is muddled cranberries, mint and club soda – YUM!
- Plan Ahead
Sometimes you just can’t resist Grandma’s non-Paleo Pumpkin pie or your nephews sugar cookies complete with a sweet smile – and that’s OK! You don’t need to punish yourself for veering off the path. But eating too many pieces of pie and too many cookies can set you back huge leaps in your progress. I like to suggest planning ‘Treat Days‘ – specific parties or events that you know for certain you will be indulging. Schedule it and plan accordingly. Do something physical that day to get your body moving and your blood flowing. Hydrate with a lot of water and eat Paleo like you would any other day. Also keep in mind – there are a TON of Paleo-friendly treats that are free of gluten, dairy and processed ingredients. And when the time comes for your treat – Enjoy it! Look at it, smell it and savor every bite.
- Pay Attention
When something is highly palatable (very pleasant to taste) like sugar and other Wintery treats, we tend to have an overwhelming desire to overeat. Sugar sends a signal to our brains to release serotonin (the calming hormone) and dopamine (the reward chemical), which makes us feel happy, excited, and, well, pleased. However, this feeling is short-lived, as our levels come crashing back down once we stop eating. It’s extremely important when indulging in these ‘pleasure foods‘ to pay attention to how you feel. Does your third or fourth bite taste as good as the first one? Are you still eating because you’re hungry and you actually want the food? OR do you feel like you already ‘blew it’ so you might as well finish it? Check in with how you’re feeling emotionally, mentally and physically – you could very well end up eating less than you anticipated!
No matter how you choose to spend your holiday, make sure you continue to take care of yourself by getting lots of sleep, hydrating and exercising. This wonderful time only comes once a year – make the most of it!
Download our FREE Holiday Paleo Cookbook – full of delicious recipes to try this Season.
Article written by: Andi Petty
Andi is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and Paleo enthusiast. She is currently seeking her PNL1 certification from Precision Nutrition. Read more of her work and connect with Andi here.
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash