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8 ways to party and keep it paleo socalising christmas

8 Ways to Party – and Keep it Paleo

It’s that time of year again where the party season is in full flow. It’s a time where everyone should be in good spirits, surrounding themselves with great food, music, and most importantly, great company. It can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to stay on track with your Paleo lifestyle at this time of the year, especially if your family and friends aren’t as conscious about their health as you are. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can stay on your path to better health, whilst not missing out on any of the enjoyment of the holiday season.

8 ways to party and keep it paleo socalising christmas

1. Be careful at the buffet

This one is self explanatory, but if you’re at a social event hosted by a non Paleo friend or family, the chances are the buffet table will be laden with gluten, sugar, and countless additives. If you’re hungry and don’t want to miss out on the social connection of eating with friends, head straight for the crudités. Filling your plate with crunchy raw vegetables will help you stay sociable and have a full plate at the same time. You may be lucky and find some nice meats, hardboiled eggs, and maybe even some salted nuts. Just watch out for anything swimming in sauce, as its most probably ‘enhanced’ with sugar and some kind of thickening agent.

Sometimes it can come across rude asking ‘can you check the ingredients in that?’ or ‘are those sausages gluten free?’ – so it’s best to stick to the food you know will be safe. If you’re really concerned there will be nothing for you to eat, tip number 2 is something worth bearing in mind.

2.    Eat before you leave

If you don’t want to risk being gluten bombed at the buffet, I’d recommend eating a good meal before you leave. It might mean changing around your meal times slightly, but it’s much better to leave the house knowing you have eaten well, rather than fret about the lack of healthy options when you arrive. If there is anything suitable for you, then hey, it’s a bonus!

3.    Experiment with IF

If you’ve never tried Intermittent Fasting before, now could be as good a time as ever. If you’re going to be travelling to visit relatives, or at long events where there may be a lack of good food options, why not try incorporating a 12 – 24 hour fast into your day?

4.    Paleo cocktails

If you’re at a social event where the drinks are flowing, you may be presented with a lack of options. If you want to stay alcohol free, there are plenty of great non alcoholic cocktails you can make. Equally, a sparkling water with some ice and a wedge of lime is refreshing and looks sociable.

If you want to treat yourself to a drink or two, do so. You deserve it. Just stay away from the beer and high sugar mixers if you can. Your best choices would be red or white wine, but if you’re in the mood for spirits, look towards cocktails made with tequila or rum. Try and mix them with low sugar options like sparkling water or vegetable based juices to avoid blood sugar crashes. Dark rum and coconut water is incredibly refreshing, and the electrolytes in the coconut water will counteract the dehydrating effect of the alcohol.

5.    Throw your own

If you really can’t face a non Paleo party, why not throw your own instead? You don’t have to make a big fuss about the health benefits of your food – simply serve up lots of tasty meat, veggies, and Paleo friendly drinks and nibbles. You’ll be able to spend good quality time with your friends and family, whilst being able to enjoy clean, wholesome food at the same time. Chances are, they’ll be none the wiser either!

6.    Take advantage of the extra free time with long walks

We know how important it is to move often, so try and incorporate a good amount of movement into your day where you can. If you can’t get to a gym, you can’t beat a long walk with friends or family. Alternatively, head to your local park in the morning for a few sprints and pull ups using tree branches. You’ll have some extra free time (hopefully!) so put it to good use with a bit of exercise every day.

7.    Sleep well

Again, take advantage of the extra free time and focus on getting some good quality sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours a night, and as you have no work to set an alarm for, wake up when the sun wakes up to reset your circadian rhythm.

8.    Don’t worry too much!

Last but not least, if you do fall off track, don’t beat yourself up about it. Wake up the next morning, and get back on the Paleo wagon. After all, you have eaten healthily for the other 364 days of the year – we’re all entitled to ‘off’ days every now and then. Simply put it to the back of your mind and move on. The most important thing about this time of the year is the people you spend it with, and a bit of a slip up every now and then won’t hurt you.

Handling Social Gatherings Whilst Remaining Paleo diet primal party dinner friends socialising-min

Handling Social Gatherings Whilst Remaining Paleo

Throughout my “official” Whole-30 period, I found it really easy to keep on the Paleo-straight & narrow, without a single cheat.  I think I’m especially fortunate living in Sydney, where many restaurants pride themselves on fairly whole, local (and often organic) food.  I eat out fairly often, and continued to do so during the 30-day challenge.  I’ve always avoided certain types of restaurant, so that wasn’t a problem.  In the restaurants I did eat in, without exception there have always been a few meals on the menu that are Paleo (for example fish and vegetables) and even more meals that I can “tweak” to make them Paleo (swapping the fries for a salad for example, and asking for no sauce/ dressing).

Last weekend however, I encountered my first Paleo difficulty.  I was invited out for a friend’s Birthday as a Moroccan restaurant in the Sydney.  However, as we were such a large group, we had to have the set menu.   I’d been quite busy, so just had a cursory glance at the menu a few weeks ago.  I saw “beef” and “chicken” and assumed I’d be able to make it work, and left it there.  Had I looked properly, I would have called the restaurant ahead as often, with notice, they can be very accommodating.  Fortunately I played it safe and had a late lunch on the day, a tactic I often employ before social events.  I’ve found there is nothing worse and more challenging than being ravenously hungry, surrounded by less than optimal food options.

We started with bread and dips.  One of the dips seemed to be egg plant, but with nothing to “dip” in it, I gave that a miss.

We were then presented with a Tabouli Salad, which after asking about the ingredients I dived into.  It contained parsley, mint, onion, olive oil, lemon & something called Bulgar.  After the first two mouthfuls I found out Bulgar is basically wheat, so didn’t have any more of that.  Why put wheat into a lovely salad?

Handling Social Gatherings Whilst Remaining Paleo diet primal party dinner friends socialising-min

With the salad came Halloumi Cheese (I’m avoiding dairy, as I’ve felt so good since I eliminated it for my Whole30), Fried Cauliflower with Eggplant jam (sugar!), pinenuts and yoghurt (more dairy).  I was starting to get a bit embarrassed by this stage that I hadn’t eaten more than two mouthfuls, so I was very relieved when the next dish was BBQ Garlic & Harissa Octopus & Skordalia.  Octopus – perfect.  One of the things I love about eating out is having things like Octopus that I would never have at home.  Octopus is supposed to have a good amount of Omega 3, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium, so a good option.  I’ve since found out that sometimes Skordalia is made stale bread in the puree; or potatoes, walnuts or almonds in olive oil; but I guess you can’t win them all.  The other dish in this course was the Moroccan equivalent to Spring Rolls; spicy lamb & pinenut boreks, with yoghurt sauce.  Didn’t have any of that either.

I was sat with lots of people I’d not met before, who were very interested in my “unusual” diet and why I was quizzing the waiting staff about what was in every dish.  I love talking about Paleo, and it definitely helps to be upfront about what you’re doing.  I always find it interesting to hear how others perceive Paleo – the main response I get time after time is how impossible they would find it to give up bread.

The main dishes would have to be more Paleo, surely!  Fortunately they were, we had: –

  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Shish Kebab with Tomato Caraway Sauce, Served with Chickpea & Nut Pilaf Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab with Pomegranate Glaze, Served with Chickpea & Nut Pilaf
  • Beef Cheek Tagine with Sweet Potato & Caramelised Onions, Served with Carrot Steamed Couscous

Served with

  • Fattoush Salad Sumac and fries
The Chicken and Beef Tagine were great, and better still my fellow dinners were so full up on the bread, pastry and beer that there was plenty left for me.  Luckily I realised the Fattoush salad contained pita bread pieces (why?) before I took any.Dessert was a beautifully presented sugar laden meringue with ice cream and lots of miniature sweets and cakes.  I used to have such a sweet tooth, but I noticed my attitude towards food like this has completely changed. I wasn’t even remotely tempted by these items.  When I look at food like this, instead of the enjoyment and taste I used to see, I now see the unwanted insulin spike it will give me, the less than par feeling I’d get an hour later and the Gluten, Phytates & Lectins in the grains creating all sorts of problems I just don’t want.

I left the meal $57 lighter, but feeling great – which certainly wouldn’t have been the case had I indulged as I would have pre-Paleo.

Going to a social event with non-Paleo friends soon?  Here are my top three tips to make the occasion as Paleo friendly as possible: –

1.       Find out what food will be offered in advance – call the restaurant several days in advance to explain your requirements and see if they can help you out

2.       Be open with the people you’re with about what you’re doing & why

3.       Don’t go to the event hungry, this will make it much harder for you to find your way through the maze of SAD food to the best Paleo choices

How do you manage social situations with SAD food?  Are your friends supportive?  Do you find particular social events better than others?  Let me know in the comments!