How to Maintain Your Primal Lifestyle Throughout the Holidays


The holidays are coming soon, at lightening speed this year it seems. With the holidays comes many stresses including choosing the perfect gift for your special someone, potential weight gain from indulging in too many sweets and adult beverages, dealing with crowds, and many more. I’ve found the holidays tend to become more stressful and not as enjoyable as an adult.

I’ve always loved this time of year when the leaves were turning color, the weather starts to get cooler, and it’s ok to start making and eating everything pumpkin. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to getting the 1,000 page JC Penny catalogue and turning the pages for hours on end circling all the cool toys and gadgets I wanted Santa to bring me. I never felt stressed about the holidays coming up, just excited to see what would be under the Christmas tree the morning of December 25th.

As an adult, my values have changed (obviously) and the holiday season has a different energy to it. I no longer think about the presents I want to find under the tree. Instead, I decide which steps I’m going to take to be proactive to lower my stress levels instead of allowing them to rise due to the pressures of the holiday season from our current society. Do I indulge a little on non-primal food and drinks this time of year? Yes, absolutely! After all, I am human and there are still certain foods and beverages I like to enjoy occasionally.

It’s so easy to get on the internet and spend money on material items that will likely take up space in someone’s home and not be used. It’s also easy to allow ourselves to eat anything that’s in front of us because “it’s the holidays, it’s ok to indulge.” We tell ourselves, “I’ll start my eating better and working out on January 1st. Until then I’ll enjoy the holidays and eat whatever I want.”

In my opinion, the holidays should be treated like any other time of the year. You should still focus on eating nutrient-dense foods but also indulge every now and then. You should also focus on keeping your stress levels low as much as possible. And you should keep moving.

Here are my tips for having a fun, relaxing, and meaningful holiday season:

Focus on quality time spent with loved ones and friends rather than which material items to buy them. My siblings and I decided years ago we were only going to buy gifts for the kids and not for each other. Even though we all live in different parts of the country and we can’t always spend the holidays together, a phone conversation getting caught up on everything exciting happening in our lives is more meaningful than an item of clothing or piece of jewelry. I have more fun hanging out with my family enjoying a good meal together or watching Christmas movies than I do opening gifts.

When purchasing gifts, focus on gifts someone will use frequently or give them an experience they might not otherwise give themselves. When I do give a gift, it’s usually an item they can use on a daily basis or a gift certificate to a place they can have a meaningful experience. For example, we usually get my parents a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or a restaurant that they might not normally go to.

When my mom asks us each year,”What do you want for Christmas?” I usually don’t have an answer for her. Last year Scot and I told her we want a burr coffee grinder. We make homemade cold brew coffee quite frequently in a large batch. This requires grinding lots of coffee beans at once. We have an easy-to-use hand grinder but we found it was too time consuming to grind all the beans using this we need for a large batch of cold brew. So, we asked for nice burr grinder that we would use frequently. This was one of the best gifts we’ve received because we use it quite often.

Instead of focusing on the foods you don’t eat since you’ve started eating real nutrient-dense food, focus on finding new fall comfort food recipes that are primal friendly. I’ve become really good at recreating my favorite comfort foods and making them primal. I do this because I love to cook and create new recipes. It’s one way I like to challenge myself and I always learn something new related to cooking. One of my favorite recipes I’ve created in my kitchen is my Bacon Kale Butternut Squash Soup. Butternut squash is a great fall starchy vegetable to have after a sprint session or high intensity workout or if you’re just wanting a hot soup. You can make and freeze this soup in single size portions so you can enjoy it on a busy day by just heating it up. However, you don’t have to do this on your own. There are so many recipes online and many primal/paleo cookbooks that have done the job for you.

Get moving! Keep up your normal workout routine regardless of how busy your schedule is this time of year. Take 10-15 minutes breaks every few hours or so to go for a walk or do 20 burpees, 20 push ups and 20 squats. If you don’t have 10-15 minutes, take a one minutes break and do 10 push ups or 10 squats. When you’re at the mall shopping for gifts park really far away from the entrance so you have to walk farther. Better yet, park on the other side of the mall from the entrance and walk all the way around. If you haven’t started a workout routine get started. If you need help figuring out how to fit exercise into your busy schedule, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help!

Give yourself permission to indulge in some holiday treats in moderation. This is really important because if we’re stressed out over what we eat our cortisol levels increase which could cause weight gain regardless of what we eat or don’t eat. One holiday tradition that we have in our family is to drink mimosas and Bailey’s Irish Cream in our coffee on Christmas morning. This is a holiday treat I look forward to every year.

If I’m having a holiday dinner at someone else’s house I always offer to bring a side dish or dessert and make sure it’s primal friendly. I don’t get caught up in whether or not the turkey is pasture-raised or the vegetables are organic. I also indulge in a piece of bread if it’s available. As long as you don’t have celiac or a gluten intolerance I think it’s ok to enjoy a piece of bread every now and then. The one food I won’t eat at all is margarine or any other kind of fake butter. Besides the fact that it’s not good for you due to the vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, I won’t eat because it is I just don’t like it. However, I will enjoy a piece of bread with real butter on it every now and then. I fill my plate with a little bit of protein and the rest with vegetables, focusing on eating the protein and vegetables first and the bread last. I have a big sweet tooth so I usually always have dessert especially if pumpkin pie is served.

Take time each day to be alone and enjoy some quiet time. This is a great way to start your day before the busyness of the day takes you away to your to do list. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to take a few deep breaths or go for a walk to get some fresh air. Give your mind a break from focusing on the task at hand and just be still. Even one minute of this can make a difference in your mood and stress levels.

Hire a health coach to be your accountability partner throughout the holiday season. One of the reasons I chose to become a health coach is to help others become the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. One of the benefits of having a health coach (or a coach of any kind) is having someone who is your ally and will hold you accountable to taking the action steps that will help you reach your health and fitness goals. I have a 30 day program that will help you get jump started on your health goals. I also offer a 12 week program that will help get you through the holiday season and have an amazing start to the new year. If you’re looking for a longer commitment I offer a 6 month program which will get you through almost half of 2018.

The holiday season shouldn’t be a time of worrying about whether or not your favorite jeans are going to fit at the end of the year. It should be a stress-free time of celebration and fun along with a little indulgence in your favorite holiday treats. They should be enjoyable!

Thanks for reading! I’d love hear your takeaways from this post.

Happy holidays!