Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It is a day meant for celebration and spending time with loved ones. But for some, it can be stressful finding balance between their health goals and the abundance of food that often accompanies the day. Preparing a big meal, especially one that fits into your Paleo lifestyle can be incredibly intimidating. Simply thinking about it can be enough to send people into a stress-related tailspin (which, for the record, is a great way to derail all the progress you’ve made by sticking to a Paleo diet!).
It might be tempting to think that you can easily ignore all your favorite treats and indulgent desserts that are in endless supply during the holiday season, but those foods are part of what make holiday traditions so special. A Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet focused on eating a variety of well-sourced meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It simply provides complete nutrition whilst avoiding most processed and refined foods. Paleo is a lifestyle emphasizing creating habits that leave you in your best health and feeling vibrant for the rest of your life. The focus is beyond sticking to a Paleo diet in order to lose weight or feel good for a few weeks. With this in mind, treats and indulgences can certainly be part of this lifestyle! The key to navigating Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season lies both in mindset and in your decisions. If you begin your holiday season with a meal full of inflammatory foods, you are far more likely to roll this into meals of off-plan leftovers, holiday parties full of processed goodies and perhaps even a traditional Christmas cookie binge.
It does not need to be this way, though. Following a Paleo lifestyle is the best way to nourish your body, and that includes allowances for special occasions and celebrations.
A few considerations to ensure your day leaves you feeling nourished and grateful:
Sometimes when you are feeling hungry, your body might actually be craving water. Ensuring you are adequately hydrated throughout the day will support a greater awareness of your natural hunger signals. If you have a difficult time drinking plain water, try adding pieces of fruit or cucumbers to your water. Herbal tea can be a great option, too.
Bitter herbs, when placed on the tongue, can stimulate the body’s natural digestive processes by triggering the production of gastric juices and saliva. They also help to stimulate your vagus nerve, creating a parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. Adding some bitters before a meal can even help to reduce the bloating, reflux, and indigestion that often accompany a large meal.
Think Protein & Vegetables First
When piling up your dinner plate, serve yourself the protein and non-starchy vegetable sides first. Not only will this ensure that your meal is still chock full of nutrition, but it will also help to crowd out space on your plate which will naturally help limit some of the more indulgent foods you may be serving this year.
It takes your body approximately 20 minutes after you start eating to register that you are full. This makes it important to eat at a leisurely pace and to give yourself a moment to pause and check-in before going for a second portion. There is no pressure to eat more than what feels satisfying, and whatever you don’t finish at dinner will make great leftovers for the week ahead!
Skip The Dishes – Walk Instead
Did you know that a 15-minute walk after a meal can help to lower your blood sugar? The glucose from the meal is moved from your bloodstream into your muscles to be used as fuel. If you don’t like walking, or the weather is not cooperating, that’s okay - any type of movement will do. After dessert, procrastinate on clean-up by taking a walk or having a mini dance party!
Enjoy The Day
Finally, a gentle reminder that Thanksgiving is just one day of the year. Your health is based on what you do most days, and one day of indulgence is not going to ruin any of your health progress. Go ahead and enjoy the day, nourish your body and your soul, breathe, and get back to your normal routine Friday morning.
And now the food……
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner often includes a few options that require a little tweaking (or eliminating altogether) to make your delectable dinner perfectly delicious and Paleo friendly.
Chef Pete’s Recipes for your Ultimate Paleo Thanksgiving
For even more seasonal insiration, grab a copy of Chef Pete's book, Paleo By Season here >>>>>>
From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and have a wonderful holiday!