Eating during the holidays can be tough if you have dietary restrictions. On one hand, you do not want to be a pain as a guest, but on the other hand, you do not want to get sick or have a reaction at the guest’s house. The following are five ways to stay paleo during the holidays that I have found helpful.
1. Try not to stress
The holidays are often a source of stress for many, but they should be a time to celebrate with family, reflect, and rejoice. If you are hosting the holiday dinner, delegate so you are not overwhelmed with cleaning and preparing all the food on your own. You may also choose to have some of the holiday dishes catered or buy them prepared if you can afford it. Paleo On The Go is one paleo/AIP catering option available in the continental US. If your family members ask what they can bring, you can always send them an easy recipe to prepare. Many individuals do not realize how simple it is to prepare dishes with clean ingredients.
If holiday food stresses you out, call the host to see what is on the menu, and ask what you can bring specifically. Also, when talking about your dietary restrictions, focus on what you can eat not what you cannot. Bring your own safe foods if you do not feel comfortable eating what the host prepares.
2. Eat a good breakfast before the holiday dinner
You might not eat the holiday dinner until late in the day, so make sure you eat a nutritious breakfast in the morning. A nutrient-dense breakfast will help you avoid low blood sugar, “hanger,” and additional stress.
3. Ask for your veggies & potato to be prepared on the side
If you tolerate white potatoes, grab a scoop of the boiled potatoes before they are mashed with milk and butter. If you eat sweet potato, either bake one in advance, or throw it in the oven with the holiday roast. Veggies should be safe, but if you are concerned about the toppings, ask to cook your portion on the side. Bring coconut or olive oil if you are concerned about the veggies being cooked in vegetable oil. Or, simply steam the veggies.
4. Bring side dishes to share
Meat is generally paleo, but it’s the casseroles and other side dishes that may be full of dairy and covered in breadcrumbs. Bring a roasted vegetable dish to share, such as roasted asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or carrots. Coat the veggies with olive oil, sprinkle garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt on top, and cook 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. That is one really easy side dish that everyone will enjoy.
Last year at Thanksgiving, my cousin made a delicious Brussels sprouts dish that I recreated and posted on the blog. Our whole family enjoyed the dish, even though it was super healthy and very few of us had dietary restrictions. Butternut squash soup is another delicious fall recipe the whole family will enjoy.
5. Bring your own compliant dessert
Once dinner is over and all the delicious desserts are out, the sugar cravings may hit. Fight the cravings by bringing your own compliant desserts. I typically bake various cookies, breads, or apple crisps, and my family enjoys them, including the little ones. Having safe desserts to munch on completely eliminates the cravings for the gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-filled desserts. Plus, I know my desserts will not bother my stomach.
Some options are my Nut-Free Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies (paleo, kid approved), Alexa from Girl in Healing’s Paleo Pumpkin Bars, and even a fruit salad (or my Whole30 Approved Birthday Cake if you’re feeling creative).
Keep in mind, it’s not the end of the world if you slip up (as long as you don’t spiral out of control). Some people can eat treats in moderation, but others do better as abstainers. Only you know your body, how your body will react to certain foods, and if you can get right back on your healing diet after a cheat. Preparing in advance and bringing compliant food to share will help avoid the cravings. I tend to stay gluten free no matter what, as gluten gives me symptoms for weeks, but if there is a little butter or other dairy in my food and I am feeling well, I try not to worry about it. I will, however, keep activated charcoal tablets on hand in case I do become symptomatic.
How do you stay paleo during the holidays?
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