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Clean Living over the Holiday Season

There can be a little anxiety about getting through this period relatively unscathed if one is following a ‘clean-eating’ food plan, but the first thing to remember is that this is meant to be a time of celebration with family, friends, and colleagues, and not a time to stress about food.

At times, especially when finding one’s feet in the primal jungle, it can seem as though every social situation is maliciously designed to sabotage our efforts at clean living.  We are social creatures, and although it’s far easier to stay home and prepare every meal primal-style, with pasture-raised meats and organic produce direct from the local farmers’ market, it just isn’t that much fun to isolate ourselves away from the rest of the world.  The good news is, with a little forward thinking, preparation, and practice, we really can get through any situation relatively unscathed… we even risk enjoying ourselves.  We can’t control life, nor do we want to, but we can put some measures in place to help us get through the temptations, if that’s our goal.  So, here are some tips on how we might navigate our way through the holiday season, while still having a cracking good time!


1- Drop the anxiety 

Worrying about food will only ensure one thing – it’ll guarantee that you don’t enjoy your holiday season.  Depending on your goals, you might just accept that this is a ‘maintenance’ phase of your journey.  For example, if fat loss is a goal, perhaps over this one-three week period, your goal is to maintain your current body fat composition.  This will help you to shift your mindset, modify your expectations, and accept/enjoy a few more indulgences away from your typical eating plan.

2- Make a GUILT-FREE decision

As you approach each ‘outing’ or social situation, have a plan.  You might decide that you’ll utilise the infamous 80/20 rule for one outing, ‘go clean’ for the next, or even throw out the invisible rule book for another.  Whatever you decide, ensure that you do it 100% GUILT FREE!  Don’t worry, those pastured eggs and organic veggies will be awaiting your arrival when you get home.


3- Move well and exercise

You might decide to take a little break from your usual exercise/fitness regime.  There’s every chance that the gym will be closed, or you are away from home, etc.  Whatever the reason, schedules tend to change over this period of time.  No worries!  What a great time to round up the family and take a walk together after lunch, stop by the kids’ playground and just play… or even volunteer to take the dog for a walk if you need a break from your family.  You might find 5 minutes at a time to move well throughout the day.  Sprints perhaps?  Squats in the kitchen?  50 lunges?

4- The holiday spread 

If your family is anything like mine, there is always a HUGE spread of food at just about every meal over the holidays.  I find that there is always plenty for me to eat while still maintaining my clean-eating lifestyle.  I usually go for the roast meats (ham, chicken, turkey, lamb, etc), a generous serve of salad, and I’m done.  I call it ‘The Tunnel-Vision’ Method.  I choose not to notice the pasta dish, and piles of bread, and the decadent desserts.  Having said that, it’s also BBQ season here in Aussie-land.  BBQ = Primal smiles all round!


5- Bring a plate 

If you’re keen to put one final measure in place to ensure that there is something on the table that you can eat without worrying about the hidden ingredients, bring a dish!  It’s quite common these days for people to contribute food to a social feast.  Go for it!  Your hosts will be please that you were so thoughtful.

6- Feel like hosting? 

So, it’s pretty easy to know what’s in the food, if you’re the one cooking.  If you’re up for the challenge, why not invite friends and family into your home?  Lamb roast, baked root-vegetables, and salad anybody?  YUM – and let’s wash it down with a glass of organic red wine, and a coconut flour primal dessert – YES!

7- 80-20 

Love it or hate it, the 80-20 rule can be a great way to eat clean over this period and still enjoy the occasional indulgence; you might have been looking forward to them for weeks.  I know for my family, there are certain nostalgic foods that I simply don’t want to miss out on, especially at this time of year; Lebanese treats that contain gluten, refined sugar, and other ‘non-primal/paleo’ ingredients.  That won’t stop me though! It’s up to each of us to decide what our tolerance levels are for each ingredient, and deal with the consequences if we choose to go for it.  It’s a trade-off that I’m willing to make, knowing that it’s a special occasion, and I don’t want to miss out.  Make the exceptions that you want to make.


8- Booze! 

It’s likely that there will be an occasion or two over the holiday period where you might want to enjoy a drink.  I tend to lean towards wine and spirits over beer, cider, and cocktails.  They are far lower in sugar, and agree with my digestion far better.  Having said that, if I can find a quality gluten-free beer, I might have one of those too.  I don’t really drink much these days, so the one or two that I do have, I ensure that I take my time and enjoy every single sip.

Our family and friends are our priority!  Enjoy the time you have with them, rather than obsessing over making ‘perfect’ food choices.  Happy holidays!

So what are your tips on clean living over the holiday season?

Feel free to share below.  

Article via Charby Ibrahim, Director @ The Ancestral Body

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