It’s time for the annual procession of all things carb: potatoes, rolls, cranberry molds, all manner of desserts. Thanksgiving, however, needn’t be a salivating stare down with the spuds. The subject du jour: how you plan to handle the holiday. Primal types seem to fall into two camps when it comes to these occasions. Some say every day is a Primal day, and they go about preparing their Thanksgiving feast the way they do every other meal. If they’re visiting for the holiday, they selectively forage and might even bring a Primal dish of their own (to share or relish alone). Others take a looser approach, balancing the value of family traditions with their Primal interests to forge a reasonable compromise for the day. There’s plenty of room under the Primal tent for both good, old-fashioned moderation and rock solid resoluteness, I’d say. Let’s take a closer look.
The “Taking 20” Approach
Yes, there’s the 80/20 Principle to consider here, and it plays out a little differently for everyone. Some folks stay pretty much fully Primal throughout the year but make their exceptions on special occasions like holidays and other celebrations. The thinking here is, “It’s only one day. I’ll have my stuffing and then go back to normal life the next day. No biggie.” Although I’m not advocating inhaling the Thanksgiving pie all by yourself, I understand the sense of making a moderate concession for the holiday. Every once in a while I’ll take that approach myself. Chalk it up to convenience or nostalgia, but Thanksgiving does only come once a year. Your family may have very meaningful traditions that you enjoy participating in, or you might just reserve a special place in your heart/stomach for a certain annual dish. Some folks will even consider the day a strategic carb-refeeding opportunity. My suggestion is to gauge where you’re at in your Primal journey. Beginners or those interested in weight loss might have a harder time traversing the route of moderation. After all, you don’t want a momentary compromise to derail your progress. However, if you feel you can enjoy it and then return to your Primal track the next day none the worse for the wear, go ahead and partake.
The “Stickin’ to Your Guns” Approach
Of all the days in the year, this can be the most difficult to navigate. Particularly if you’re spending the day with family or cooking with a non-Primal partner, your commitment can get some blowback even if it’s “tolerated” the rest of the year. Rest assured: you’re not a stick in the mud or a killjoy. It’s entirely your right to eat the way you want to on Thanksgiving just like it is every other day. You might choose to explain your reasoning (once again), or you might just try to lay low and avoid the subject for the day. (Comments/anecdotes, anyone?) In the interest of keeping peace and harmony, however, there are plenty of ways to politely turn down the un-Primal fare on the table.
The truth is, there are plenty of ways to make your holiday fully Primal – or any degree between. Whether you’re hosting or visiting, I invite you to look back at our most popular Thanksgiving recipes. They’ll truly an indulgent way to stay on track this holiday, and they’re proof once again that eating Primal doesn’t mean sacrificing taste.
Share your delicacies and you might even win over some converts!
However you choose to approach the holiday this week, know that it’s ultimately about owning your choice. Gorging with the delusion that a carb binge won’t have any repercussions isn’t exactly taking responsibility, but neither is seething at the holiday spread while swearing off a mere shadow of a carbohydrate.
The decision itself doesn’t matter as much as the spirit and knowledge behind it. Make your own, fully informed, entirely unapologetic choice and relish the holiday for all its worth!
Now it’s your turn. Good readers, what say you? Will you be invoking the Primal compromise or planning a fully Primal holiday? Vote and comment below.
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.