Primal Holiday Eating: A Health-Saving Strategy Guide

November 6, 2011

The holidays are coming up, and that means we’ll all be foundered in a sea of hi-glycemic, low-nutrient, sugary, grain-filled, or otherwise unhealthy options.  Frequently, people are at a loss about how to handle these holiday situations in a way that is both healthful and polite.  No one wants to be the guest at Thanksgiving that makes a lot of special dietary demands, nor do they want to decline everything, which can seem rude.  So how do you go to the holiday gatherings and maintain your healthy eating plan?  Here’s a guide to some of my preferred strategies to avoiding giving yourself a few extra pounds for Christmas.

1.  Pick out whatever are the worst offenders/biggest temptations for you personally, and bring your own, paleo-friendly version.  That way, you can have a healthy version of the big temptations (the ones you couldn’t say “no” to) and the lesser temptations, you can walk away from.  At the same time, you’ll be providing dishes to share, which will win you points with your host, so if you decline something else, they won’t mind.  Over the next weeks, I’ll be offering up some ideas on how to make primal versions of holiday favorites to help you out in this department.

2.  About 20 minutes before the meal, find an excuse to duck out, and do a small amount of bodyweight resistance training.  Bust out 25 pushups and 25 squats.  This won’t be enough to work up a sweat, keep you away for very long, or otherwise make you suspicious, but it will activate your body’s response to build/repair muscle, resulting in the muscle cells recruiting the extra carbohydrates for muscle building, and lower the impact on your blood sugar.

3.  Take a long walk or play a pickup game of football with your family and friends after the meal.  It doesn’t need to be strenuous, just get up and get moving right away.  Not only will this provide family bonding (always good), it will help to burn off those extra carbohydrates and sugars as they’re digested – that is, before they get stored as fat.

4.  Skip breakfast on the day or the day after.  During the night, your body’s systems will finish processing all the food you ate during the day, meaning that when you wake up, you’re running on stored fat.  That means that every calorie you burn in the morning before you eat is pure fat.  Make the most of that loophole.

Finally, remember that it’s okay to have a few days of gluttony in a year.  After all, our ancestors enjoyed some feast/famine cycling as they brought down large game only to have other times when food was scarce.  We’re built to have a little of both (that’s why the skipping breakfast thing is so effective).  The main thing is to make sure that the gluttony is restricted to the actual day of the holiday.  Feel free to go to town on Thanksgiving, on Christmas, etc., as long as you don’t make Thanksgiving simply the kick-off to a month long period of overeating and unhealthy food choices, as so many people in this country do.  And when you do indulge, use these tips to help minimize the damage.  Happy holidays, good eating, and good health!

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