Not every holiday can be as primal friendly as International Bacon Appreciation Day and for many of us following the primal lifestyle the holidays bring an abundance of temptation. The holidays are a time when family gets together around the dinner table to gorge on the traditional holiday fare. Stuffing, fried turkey, creamed corn, pumpkin pie, sugary goodness, fluffy gluten filled rolls, and all of the traditional garbage we've grown up to think we need come this time of year. Not to mention trying to explain the primal lifestyle to our grandmothers and other family members who "don't get it." There's no doubt the holidays can easily break many a primal follower, but here are some tips to soldier your way through so the only resolution you'll need to make come new year’s is to eat more bacon.
1. Bring your own primal side dish.
You know the turkey will be primal (unless it’s fried) and so will the ham (minus the sugar glazed outer edge), but it’s those pesky side dishes that we have a hard time with. Mashed potatoes & gravy, nope...creamed corn, nope...That's why our #1 tip is to bring your own side dish, one that you know you can fill up on without guilt. Try a sweet potato dish, or one of our P2TP side dishes like our Loaded Baked Apples or Devils on Horseback. At least this way you leave yourself with no excuse.
2. Be proud of your lifestyle choice.
One of the hardest and most annoying things we may face is our own family. It's likely that your primal lifestyle will come up in conversation and it’s likely that you will find yourself having to explain what primal is and why you do it. If you have an understanding family you're in the clear but if your family is like mine they just won’t get it and you will be subject to joking and being made fun of for being on a "diet." Here's what I've learned, the more proud you are of it and the more you own your decision, the more intrigued they all eventually become. Before you know it, your side dish will be gone and the steaming pile of turkey stuffing Aunt Lucy brought will be un-touched.
3. Load up on the good stuff.
If there are a few things you can find that are primal, load up on them right away. Fill your plate so you don't have room for the bad stuff. By the time you're done you won’t even want any of the stuff you thought you were missing out on.
4. Avoid these hidden things:
If you don't have the luxury of bringing your own food or find yourself having to play the "is this primal" game, here are some ground rules.
- Avoid gravy; it usually has gluten filled flour in it to thicken it up.
- Avoid anything creamy for the same reason.
- Fried turkey is not primal as it was almost definitely not fried in coconut oil or olive oil.
- Stay away from anything that likely came in a can.
5. Choose your battles.
Sometimes it's just not possible to be completely primal in every situation but if you have to "cheat" then maybe strive to establish some ground rules and try and go for the lesser of evils. Go for the closest things to primal you can get. Above all else, do your best to avoid gluten, the most evil of the non-primal ingredients. For instance, if you have to, go for a small scoop of mashed potatoes, but nix the gluten-filled gravy and opt for some butter, salt, and pepper.
6. If you know you're headed into a trap, pre-eat.
Yep, if you know for a fact you're going somewhere where there will be zero primal options, eat some primal food beforehand. You don't have to be rude and skip dinner, but pre-eating will help keep your appetite small so you're not gorging yourself on the bad stuff.
7. Don't make it stressful.
If telling grandma you don't want any of her famous pumpkin pie is punishable by death, or if peer pressure and temptation are getting the best of you then by all means go overboard for a night. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed so don't let trying to stay primal ruin your experience. Eating primal should be a lifestyle choice and in order to maintain it for life you can't let it become a burden. Fortunately, if you're anything like me you won’t need more than one or two of these "going overboard" days to never have another again. Those foods you thought you missed never taste as good as you remember and the gluten hangover isn't worth it. If reminding yourself of that every once in a while keeps you on track the rest of the year then I say you're doing a good thing.
---Primal to the People