How to Stick to Paleo During the Holiday Season

THW-paleo-holidays-blog

So, you have been on a paleo plan this year and have been doing great, but now it’s the holiday season and you are getting nervous about keeping it up. Don’t fret! You can still maintain your paleo eating plan throughout the holidays and into the new year without having to stress or miss time with your friends and family. Here’s how!

Create Paleo Holiday Favorites with Substitutions

With a little creativity, you can still make your favorite holiday dishes without breaking your paleo diet. After all, the paleo diet isn’t very restrictive once you learn a reliable system to replicate your favorite foods. Here’s a quick overview of ingredient substitutions you can use during your holiday meal planning plus ideas for making holiday classics. 

Replace the Flour in Your Recipes

When you are cooking and baking holiday treats, most recipes are going to ask for flour or bread crumbs. Since these are not allowed on the paleo diet, you will need to look for a good alternative. Instead of using traditional all-purpose flour, try using either coconut or almond flour. It will be a slightly different texture but works great in many recipes. A good alternative for bread crumbs is ground flax meal.

Skip the Dairy

If you have been on paleo for a while, you are probably already accustomed to skipping the cow’s milk and other dairy products and using dairy alternatives instead. For your holiday recipes, continue with this tradition, using nut milk like almond milk or cashew milk instead. Some other options include coconut milk or using coconut cream instead of heavy cream.

Finding a Good Sweetener

For your sweets during the holiday season, you won’t be able to use white table sugar or brown sugar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them sweet! Instead of sugar, try sweetener alternatives like raw honey or real maple syrup. You can also try coconut sugar when you are in a pinch.

Enjoy These Paleo-Friendly Holiday Foods

Some traditional holiday dishes are easily paleo-friendly while others are rich in dairy and grains. If you’re attending a holiday meal at someone else’s home or you’re planning your own dinner, here are some suggestions for foods that will work well with your diet. 

Vegetables

Make vegetables the star of your side dishes without dairy-based sauces or butter. Popular veggies during the holidays include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, sweet potato, and squash. This is the great thing about holiday meals – most people serve plenty of veggies as healthy sides, so you can fill up your plate with them, and still enjoy a meal with your family and friends.

Grass-Fed Meat

Organically sourced meat is perfect for a paleo diet. Make sure you choose grain-fed poultry and meat for your meal. If this isn’t available and you can’t bring a meat dish of your own, just choose a little less meat, and a little more of the veggies.

Paleo-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole

This iconic Thanksgiving and Christmas dish is often rich in trans fats and sugar, but it’s just as delicious without the refined additives. Sweet potatoes on their own are paleo-friendly. Make your staple casserole with raw honey, almond or cashew milk, and maple syrup.

Variations of Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin is a paleo-friendly food that is high in vitamins, but traditional pumpkin pie destroys the health benefits with refined sugar and dairy. If you are bringing the pumpkin pie to a party, consider making your own pumpkin pie with dairy alternatives like almond milk and natural sweeteners.

Getting Through the Holiday Parties

When you aren’t hosting your own holiday party, it can get a little tricky and feel intimidating. However, don’t let this discourage you from spending time with family and loved one during the season. Here are some easy ways to survive the holiday parties while staying on paleo, and actually enjoy yourself.

Tell the Host About Your Diet

When attending dinner at someone else’s home for the holidays, it’s okay to give them a head’s up about your dietary restrictions. Many people are now used to accommodating diets like gluten-free and vegan and will at least be willing to make minor changes to the menu or offer alternatives that will be appropriate for your diet. Always offer to bring your own hearty side dishes in case the host would rather not change their traditional recipes!

Eat Veggies First

Eating your veggies first will serve a few purposes at holiday parties. To start with, it fills you up so that you are not starving when dinner starts, and really struggling with saying no to stuffing and rolls. This also makes you feel like you are joining in with the rest of your family by eating along with them, even though you are still eating the paleo-approved foods.

Don’t Skip the Sweets

This is a personal decision, but if you really don’t want to say no a loved one who worked hard on treats that are not paleo-friendly, there are ways around it. To start with, you can add a small amount to your plate and just not eat it, or have a bite or two. Another option is to simply eat all other foods first, then if you still have a craving, eat a little nibble of mashed potatoes or pie.
Go forth and enjoy your holidays empowered with this knowledge to help you feel good about your food choices!

Healthy Holiday Group

If you would like extra support over the holidays (and who wouldn’t!) I’ve created a Healthy Holidays Facebook Group that is completely free to join. Click the link here to request to join! I hope I’ll see you in there. We are going strong with lots of tips and extra accountability to feel great and stick to our health goals during this season.