Ah, Thanksgiving. The holiday where overeating unhealthy food is part of the tradition. It’s a dream come true for many Americans, but it can be a nightmare for those of us that appreciate a healthy diet. It can be especially difficult for those eating a Paleo diet when many traditional Thanksgiving dishes are focused on bread, potatoes, and the all American favorite: sugar.
While some of us are hosting our own Thanksgivings and have control over the menu, most will be attending at least one function hosted by a friend or family member. This is where staying true to Paleo gets tricky. We’ve come up with a short list of ways to keep your Paleo lifestyle intake while navigating this holiday.
Tip 1: Share Your Eating Preferences With The Host
These days, everyone has a dietary restriction. From doctor recommended to self-prescribed, it’s not unusual for people to have certain restrictions on their diet. So don’t be afraid to share your eating preferences with your host. And since it’s hard to keep everyone’s preferences in mind, it’s nice to keep you host updated at all events. We shouldn’t assume they keeps notes for next time.
If anything they will be pleased to know in advance. Nothing will insult a host like having their dishes go untouched. Most would much prefer to prepare dishes they know their guests will enjoy. My mother will grumble about having to prepare such “unusual dishes for all her kids, but she is always thrilled when her new recipe is a huge success.
Tip 2: Offer To Bring a Dish (Or Two!)
Hosting is stressful enough with everyone’s dietary restrictions. Take some of that stress off your host by offering to bring a dish or two yourself. Then you know you’ll have some Paleo options. Plus it gives you an opportunity to share your eating passions with your friends and family. People will be less likely to question your eating habits (see #5) when they can try one of your yummy Paleo dishes. Check out some of our tasty Paleo spins on traditional Thanksgiving recipes.
Tip 3: Eat Before Hand
It’s no fun to arrive at a Thanksgiving dinner and find there are only a few dishes you can enjoy. Being hungry while everyone else is tucking in is one way to ruin an enjoyable holiday. So one precaution you can take is to eat a snack beforehand. It doesn’t have to be an entire meal, but enough to keep you from getting ravenous if there are only a few Paleo options available.
Tip 4: Stick To The 80:20 Rule
It’s easy to maintain 100 percent Paleo when you are in charge of your diet. But it’s a little harder when your meal options are provided by someone else. This is where we suggest you follow the 80 percent Paleo and 20 percent non-Paleo rule. It’ll give you a lot more wiggle room when it comes to family and friend functions. You won’t have to pass up on an entire dish if it has one ingredient that’s not Paleo.
This rule also will help your host because they won’t have to remake every dish with your dietary restrictions in mind. This is also true when your host has attempted to make a Paleo dish but didn’t quite hit the mark. Keeping your host at ease will definitely make the event more enjoyable for everyone.
Tip 5: Be Prepared for Questions
It’s inevitable that someone will question your eating habits when they notice you are not eating every dish on the table (like they are doing). So being prepared for those questions prevents you from feeling attacked. Because let’s be honest, some people don’t know how to ask nicely. Knowing how you’ll respond also helps reduce your stress in those situations.
People who are snarky in their questions and comments may feel your choice is calling their choice into question. Try to keep those feelings at bay by answering questions in a positive manner. Instead of pointing out all the reasons not eating Paleo is nutrition suicide, point out the reasons you have found great success in eating Paleo. Keeping your comments personal with “I’ve found" and “for me" prepositional phrases will cause the least amount of insult to those asking questions.
Tip 6: Don't Let Others Influence You
It’s hard to stick to your plan when so many around you are gorging themselves. It’s practically part of the Thanksgiving tradition, to eat until you can’t eat anymore, and then have some pie. In my family, the guys used to compete on who could eat more. With that much overindulgence going on, we are easily tempted to join in.
Make sure you are paying attention to not only what you are eating, but how much you are eating. It’s especially easy to overeat when there is no portion control. When large platters of delectable food are within arm’s length, it’s easy to add just a little more to your plate three or four times. So even though you are staying true to your Paleo diet, you should also maintain your overall health by not scarfing down in unison with the other guests.