The holidays are a time for celebration, gatherings with family and friends, and, of course, lots of food. If you are someone following the Paleo diet, you will likely encounter more challenges to your diet at this time of year than any other, but hope is not lost. If you are not sure where to start, we are here to help with 7 tips for surviving the holidays on a Paleo diet. You will find that staying true to yourself and your diet is generally easy and painless with these suggestions.
The number one secret weapon to surviving the holidays is to make sure that you bring a lot of snacks with you wherever you go, not just in situations where there may be food. Of course, they will help in situations where food is being served that doesn't fit into your lifestyle - there are so many office parties and get-togethers at this time of year, you will likely be in a lot of those situations. It's possibly more important to keep Paleo snacks at the ready for the everyday stressors you don't see coming. Long shopping days, air travel layovers, and the general stress of the holiday season can wear on you and make you reach for foods that don't fit your diet. Having those snacks on hand in your most vulnerable moments will help get you through the tough times.
There is no shame in being open about the changes you are making to take care of yourself, and most of the people in your life will support you. Being honest and open will prevent most awkward situations and questions, and you will find that many hosts will be happy to accommodate you. If your diet is for medical reasons, like an AIP diet, you don't have to disclose that, but you can talk in more general terms about being proactive about your health. In addition, getting out ahead of the issue will allow you to relax and enjoy yourself at events without feeling uncomfortable about not participating in the food portion.
Host the Holidays
This is not an option for everyone, but for those who can host the holidays at their house, it is a surefire way to survive because you are at your home base. You have all the ingredients to make a hybrid Paleo or AIP feast that you and your guests can enjoy. Of course, you can introduce your guests to how delicious the Paleo diet is and how they too can be proactive about their health, but even if you choose to cook more traditional food for your guests, you will at least have your food from your fridge to eat while they are enjoying the traditional holiday meal.
Be Thankful, But Helpful
You may be surprised to find how supportive and accommodating the people in your life can be, and some hosts may ask if they can make a dish or two specifically for you to enjoy. If this situation arises, the best thing is to send them a recipe that fits your diet. When sharing recipes, remember that some Paleo ingredients are specific to the Paleo diet, and not everyone will have those ingredients hanging around in their cupboards. Try to find recipes that still fit your diet but use common ingredients that people will have or know where to easily find in the grocery store.
It's Okay to Say No
You are taking control of what you put in your body to take care of yourself, and it is okay to say no to anything you think may hinder that. Whether it is saying no in a situation when someone offers you food you don't want or turning down an invitation to a gathering altogether if you think the temptation will be too strong, there is nothing wrong with saying no. It is also okay not to explain yourself when someone asks why you said no; it isn't anyone else's business if you don't want it to be. The person that you may have the most challenging time saying no to is yourself, so know that it is okay to slip up every once in a while and not to be too hard on yourself when that happens.
Know the Hidden Enemies
Unfortunately, there may be instances when you think you are doing everything right, but something has snuck in that you didn't even think about. While baked goods and cheesy dishes are easy to spot, other garnishes like dressings, sauces, and marinades often have added sugar and flour in them for flavor and texture. Stick with tried and true seasoning like salt and pepper to bring out the flavor in those foods, and always keep some lemon juice and hot sauce on hand to liven up a meal without breaking your diet.
Starting and staying on a life-changing diet isn't always easy, and that is okay. You are a strong person, and you can handle whatever the holiday season has to throw at you. No matter how good giving in to temptation may feel, it will feel ten times better beating it. Remember to have snacks at the ready to help curb that temptation. If you do slip up, remember that you are only human, and one mistake won't define you or your diet.
Coming Out on Top
Though the days seem long, the months are short, and the holiday season will be behind you before you know it. Sticking with a Paleo diet throughout the holidays may pose a few challenges, but it is nothing that you can't handle. While everyone else is complaining about the weight they put on over the holidays, you will look, and more importantly, feel great because you stuck to your diet through the season. Whether this is your first or fifteenth holiday season on a Paleo diet, Paleo Angel wants to be a part of your success. Contact us for our nutritious and delicious Paleo Power Balls for a portable, Paleo-friendly snack and other Paleo and AIP diet resources.