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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.

Happy Thanksgiving paleo recipes turkey healthy

Happy Thanksgiving

With a lot of my readers being American, I couldn’t ignore the fact that today is Thanksgiving in the USA. So if you’re American – Happy Thanksgiving – and if not – how about having your own international Thanksgiving day? It’s often quite hard to get hold of Turkey where I live in Australia, but I find it a little easier to obtain at this time of year, thanks to the American Expats who live here!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, how can you accommodate your guests while still keeping it Paleo? Fortunately there are several options out there that will be great for everyone, using a few substitutions to the traditional Thanksgiving menu.
Happy Thanksgiving paleo recipes turkey healthy

Substitution Ideas For Traditional (Non Paleo!) Thanksgiving Recipes:

  • Substituting bread crumbs. A lot of recipes will ask for bread crumbs when you are cooking. A good alternative to bread crumbs is crushed up pork crackling/ pork rinds. Just crush them to the same consistency as you would bread crumbs – or alternatively try ground nuts.
  • Instead of sugar, if you can, try to omit entirely. If you can’t, try a more natural sweetener, like raw honey.
  • Substitute starch with spaghetti squash, butternut squash, or acorn squash.
  • If you are planning on making a salad use a natural dressing like olive oil and lemon or lime.
  • If you’re making a dessert, a recipe may call for whipped cream. An alternative to whipped cream is chilled coconut milk – both healthy and delicious.
  • Instead of making a traditional desert, keep it simple with berries in coconut milk.

Cooking for a group of family and friends is a great chance to show case your Paleo diet – and show that eating healthy food does not sacrifice amazing tasting food.

Thanksgiving is a time to share thanks for the blessings in your life – a worth while thing to do if you’re American or not. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween healthy paleo recipes

Happy Halloween

Do you celebrate Halloween? Like so many festivals, Halloween is heavily linked with trashy food. If you are interested in ways to have a great Halloween while still following a healthy Paleo lifestyle then read on, because I have some great ideas to help you have a fun holiday.

Halloween healthy paleo recipes

One of the things to keep in mind with Halloween is that it’s all about spending time with family and friends and having a good time – rather than the treats you can and cannot eat. I know that Halloween is a big “treat” holiday, but there are plenty of other things you can focus on to have a good time.

As far as trick-or-treating goes, you can still have fun and do that; however you want to focus on the social fun traditional aspect of it, rather than the end result of candy. Take your family out and have fun. You can have a lot of fun creating unique costumes and so this is your chance to go out and show them off. At the end of the night you can spend time with your family and make your own tasty paleo treats. Some parents offer their kids a buy back scheme – to offer cash or another reward in exchange for the junk they collected.

I was really impressed to see how one father enabled his son to join in the fun – whilst avoiding the sugar filled junk normally given to trick or treaters – see the photo below. Would you try something like this?

Paleo Diet Halloween Trick or Treat Alternative
You can make some great Paleo friendly treats to enjoy. Try spiced nuts, jerky and kale chips instead of sweets and candy.

When you buy pumpkins to carve, make sure you save the inners to make a huge batch of pumpkin soup. You can use the carved pumpkins to serve dips for veggies, instead of plain bowls.

Well there you have it! Here are some ideas for you to make the most out of your Halloween. Just remember to not focus on what the world tends to focus on, which is the sweets, lollies and candy. Focus on having a fun time with friends and family and prepare some Paleo friendly snacks in advance.

Do you do anything for Halloween? How do you keep it Paleo?

9 ways to keep it paleo at Christmas holiday diet health-min

9 Ways to Keep it Paleo This Christmas

With all of the festivities at this time of year, you might be worried about keeping it Paleo? Well, with a bit of planning and organisation, there’s no need to worry about foregoing your health this Christmas.

  • Remember how you feel after you eat gluten/ drink alcohol/ eat something that doesn’t agree with you.
  • Organise to host your own party/ dinner, early, to ensure you have control over the menu. You’ll be surprised how many friends will ask you for the recipes!
  • If you’re going out of Christmas events try eating before you leave, as when hunger strikes it’s harder to avoid the bad options
  • Call the venue ahead to check on the menu options, and see how they can accommodate you. You’ll find many places happy to tweak their Christmas menu to accommodate.
  • If you’re going to a friend’s event, bring your own dishes to ensure there will be some good options you can have
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into eating badly – often people seem keen to sabotage the good efforts of others (perhaps because it makes them feel better about their own bad choices) – so be prepared!
  • Don’t be afraid to lie – sometimes it’s just easier to say you have an allergy or intolerance instead of explaining why you eat this way (have you ever done this?)
  • If you have the chance to organise a Christmas event yourself, choose a venue with more paleo options – or better still arrange an event that isn’t based around food.

And finally:

  • If you do fall off the wagon, tomorrow is another day. Don’t beat yourself up over it – but don’t let the slip justify more bad eating! Move on and eat well again.

How do you find sticking to a Paleo diet at this time of year? What are your top tips for success?

9 ways to keep it paleo at Christmas holiday diet health-min

paleo events in australia sydney melbourne brisbane new zealand which going to-min

Which Paleo Event Are You Going To Next?

Having been to many Paleo events, and being involved in some of the Paleo meetup groups, I highly recommend putting some events into your calendar!

When you eat differently to your friends and family, an evening out with like minded people can make all the difference in terms of encouragement and support. I also find local events are the best way to find out about places to eat – and where other locals buy their Paleo supplies from.

Head over to the brand new What’s On page, where you’ll find all of the Paleo events going on where you live – and around the World. Some events are definitely worth travelling for!

The best way to attend Paleo events is to sign up to a meetup group in your area. If there isn’t a meetup group yet, then it’s easy to create your own (and if you do, please come back and tell me about it, so I can add your events to the Paleo calendar!)

There are so many events scheduled now. From big, formal conferences, lectures and symposiums – to small casual after work dinners, in local Paleo friendly restaurants, there is something for everyone. Our local Sydney Paleo meetup group has organised barbecues, picnics, pot lucks and dinners. The Melbourne group have regular classes to teach you how to make your owned fermented foods. As Paleo continues to get more and more popular, we should see even more Paleo events in the calendar.

The Paleo Calendar features all of the events in Australia (there are now ten Paleo meet-up groups in the country, at least one in every state!), New Zealand (Auckland and Wellington), the UK (London, Birmingham & Milton Keynes), Canada (Toronto) and of course America (there are LOTS of events and meetup groups in the USA!). If I’m missing your event or meetup group, please let me know!

Are you a member of a Paleo meetup group? What type of Paleo events would you like to attend – and which events have you been to so far?

paleo events in australia sydney melbourne brisbane new zealand which going to-min

Paleo Interventions

Paleo Interventions

Like me, I’m sure you frequently hear people discussing their ill health.  Sometimes it’s so glaringly obvious that they would likely benefit from a 30-day Paleo trial.  So what do you do? Are you in favour of an Intervention?

Last week I was preparing my lunch in the shared kitchen in my office, when I was joined by a lady complaining to another colleague about her terrible stomach problems.  She’d seen so many doctors and specialists, had so many tests – but nothing was found and none of their suggestions helped.  She went “low-gluten” and “almost dairy free” a few days ago and was feeling a bit better, which she put down to avoiding pasta in the evenings.  She wasn’t feeling great, so was just preparing some toast (wholegrain bread, obviously) with margarine, to settle her stomach.  I spent ages in the kitchen, waiting for a chance to intervene, looking for a chance to tell her about Paleo and suggest she just tries it for 30 days.  But no chances arose and I’m always really unsure whether or not it’s wise to intervene.

I generally take the stance that if I’m asked anything about what I do, that’s an opportunity for me to tell someone about it.  But in a situation like this, where I’m not asked – and don’t even know the persons name, I normally don’t intervene.

Hopefully another opportunity will arise.

What do you do in situations like this? Have you ever performed a Paleo Intervention?

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!

Meetup paleo meet up groups events conference-min

Meeting Real, Local People – Who Lead a Paleo Lifestyle Too

Last night was the fourth meet up of the Sydney Paleo group – and the third I’ve had the pleasure of attending.  We met at a Korean Barbeque restaurant, tucked away down a side street, in the city centre.  A few of us had met before and there were some new faces to meet.  The food couldn’t have got much more Paleo.  We had all different types of meat, which we barbequed ourselves.

I’m becoming more and more obsessed with all things Paleo as time goes by.  I always want to talk about an amazing new blog I’ve found, or find out what others think about the latest research.  But I am aware that a lot of my non Paleo friends aren’t as interested in this as I am!  To be able to meet up with a group of people on the same wavelength is amazing.

We were able to jump straight into topics such as Jack Kruse’s Leptin theories, Nora Gedgaudas’s Australian Primal Body Primal mind conference, the AHS and how we handle social events with our non-Paleo friends.  We discussed our favourite blogs and books, how we do Paleo and local Paleo friendly suppliers & restaurants.

As much as I benefit from & value my online Paleo friends and the online community, there is nothing like meeting Paleo people in real life.

Next month we’ll be meeting again, only this time for an outdoor meet up.  A barbeque by the beach, frisbee, slack line & lots of paleo talk – I can’t wait!

If you don’t know any Paleo folk in real life, I suggest you join your local meetup group – or if there isn’t one – create it yourself!