Holiday Healthy Eating! by Dr. Arland Hill
Without question, the toughest time of year to eat healthy is through the holidays. We are inundated with sweets, snacks and goodies of all sorts tempting our palate at seemingly every turn. So is it even possible to get through the holidays and maintain your Paleo ways. It might not be easy, but it can be done.
Two factors that may have the biggest impact on disrupting a Paleo diet through the holidays include eating foods that contain gluten and eating foods that promote blood sugar fluctuations, such as those high in refined carbohydrates. If we can watch out for these two pitfalls, then surviving the holidays with good eating habits is manageable.
Here are a few tips that I recommend.
Step out of the box and try recipes that you are not familiar with. If you are preparing something that usually contains gluten, try the gluten free option, like almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour. Many times you will be surprised at just how good some of these foods taste. Here is a website that allows you to search for gluten free recipes. Gluten Free Cooking School (also see the links on my blogroll to the right for great recipe sites, or follow me on Pinterest)
If you consider what is a typical holiday meal, many of the foods that we typically eat at these times already fit the Paleolithic model. For example, most of us eat turkey, vegetables and fruits with our holiday meal. These all fit the parameters of a Paleo Diet.
Instead of frying a turkey in inflammatory oils, simply bake it.
Add fat to a dish when possible. Fat cuts the hunger craving and satiates quickly. Examples might include butter your corn on the cob or adding some olive oil and cinnamon to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Reach for fruits as a dessert instead of the typically high sugar cakes and pies.
When eating dessert types of food, eat them after a meal. You are less likely to eat as much and if you have followed the other Paleo principles, the amount of sugar in desert will have less impact on your glucose levels. This same idea can be used if going to a party. Eat something before going to insure that you do not over indulge such as raw vegetables or nuts.
Eat slow. Take the time to enjoy the meal and give thanks. Often we are so in tune with wanting to devour the food in front of us that we miss the enjoyment of the meal. Sit your fork down between bites and savor the food. You will tend to not eat as much when you do this.
Use as many spices and herbs to season with as possible. Many times these might offset some of the undesirable effects of holiday food. For example, cinnamon can help promote blood sugar regulation.
If you make a pie, try doing it without the crust. This adds a lot of extra carbohydrates to the dish and most of us are after the pie filling anyway. (Or check out this Gluten-Free pie crust from Elana’s Pantry!)
Lastly, if you steer off course for a meal or even a day, don’t worry about it. It is the sum of all your actions during this time that matters the most. I typically tell my patients during this time of year that I don’t even want to know what they had on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, but the days in between do count. Enjoy yourself, but don’t go overboard and don’t give up your non-dietary health habits like quality restful sleep and exercise. (and water!!!)