The month of Halloween, jack-o-lanterns, and things that go bump in the night is upon us. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Something about the whole dark Gothic nature of it appeals to me on a deep level. I only wish that kids today could enjoy it as I did back in the 80’s and 90’s. Now trick-or-treaters hit the malls and are done before sundown; never mind the all night ramblings I used to enjoy. In fact last year after buying a ton of candy and going all out on our decorations not one single kid showed up in our apartment complex. I blame the old folks and their “lock the doors and turn off the lights,” attitudes. The same people that pillaged whole towns for candy as youngsters are now the ones who refuse to participate in this yearly ritual and rite of passage for American youth. It’s shameful. The big problem though was what to do with all that candy.
The holidays can be a rough time for the fitness minded person. It seems we’re surrounded by tempting treats and delicious comfort food. Office parties and holiday gatherings add up to a mine field of processed foods and calorie laden sweets. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare though. With a little planning and discipline even a Paleo eater can have a scrumptious holiday season without breaking the rules and adding inches to the waistline.
First thing you need to embrace is practicality and to that end don’t beat yourself up if you indulge at a party or two. It’s the Holidays and more importantly its winter; the time of year your body naturally wants to put on weight. You’re literally hard wired for weight gain when the days get shorter, especially if you’re heritage is north western European. This isn’t a license to pig out though and put off healthy eating for a New Year’s resolution. Practicality also means being smart. If you know there’s going to be awesome snacks at a party eat ahead of time to reduce your cravings and fill your stomach. If you do partake control portion sizes and limit the sugar intake including alcohol which can impede digestion. Drink coffee with your treats. Coffee is one of those beverages that help speed food through the digestive tract before it can be digested and absorbed. Finally you cannot and must not skip workouts. Now is the time to turn up the heat on workouts not the time to slack off.
Last year I ended up eating most of the candy we had leftover and it was misery. Throw that crap away once Halloween is over. Whether you eat it or toss it straight in the trash can it’s still money down the drain so don’t try to justify eating 3 pounds of sugar because of cost. Let the kids enjoy their candy in moderation, but try to find an alternative for your own family. You should be looking online for adult treats and Paleo friendly alternatives and there are literally hundreds of them. This year we’ve pledged to spend the time to cook and make our own healthful and tasty treats instead of falling victim to the store bought sugar bombs that are calling out to us all from the television and store shelves. Oh yeah in case you’re wondering Pumpkin Spice M&M’s taste like crap so don’t bother. Halloween isn’t the end of good planning either but just the start.
Thanksgiving when done right is a holiday custom tailored for the Paleo enthusiast. Christmas should be no different. A few simple substitutions or alternatives and you’ve got a meat and veggie feast! There are dozens of pumpkin desserts out there that are Paleo Friendly. Likewise now is the time to allow a little leeway for potatoes, white and sweet. If you’re inclined make the holiday meal the one cheat meal of your week. I know for me it’s not a holiday feast without cornbread stuffing and gravy so I’ll probably be enjoying some; that day and that day only. Where most people run into trouble is that the holiday eating gets drug out over several days and even weeks. Make a promise to yourself to make smaller meals this year and cut down on leftovers. Go back to your normal eating routine the next day.
So let’s review. Use this time to investigate new recipes and Paleo treats. Avoid as much sugar as possible and limit your party goodies to single servings. Eat before going out so you won’t fill up on crap. Make smaller portions for holiday meals so you’re not stuck eating badly for a whole week rather than just one huge meal. Also you may want to experiment with intermittent fasting the day after a big meal too, to help clear out excess calories and processed foods. Crank up your workouts for the next 3 months and don’t slack off. Finally it’s the holidays, lighten up and enjoy them. We eat like we do and workout like we do so that when that big holiday meal comes along our bodies can absorb it without detriment and move on.