Imagine you’re in a room with some of the biggest and brightest names in the paleo/primal world. Superstars. Giants, even.
And you’re sitting round an open fire, cup of a hot beverage in your hands, chatting, just chatting…
Imagine asking them their best advice for managing the holidays. What their hopes and plans are for 2013. And because you want to gain some insight into their personal world and perhaps get some gift ideas of your own, you cheekily ask them what’s on their holiday wish list.
That’d be kind of cool, right?
Your wish is my command
A few weeks ago, I contacted some leading lights of the paleo/primal movement along with some of my favorite bloggers and some of those suggested by readers of my Facebook page. And, as I knew they would, they were kind enough to reply.
Mark, Robb, Sarah, George, Nom Nom and more…
Read on to get their top paleo advice for the holidays, what they think will happen in the paleo/primal/ancestral health movement next year and their own plans for 2013. I also (rather cheekily I thought ) asked what they wanted for the holidays. Read on to find out. Enjoy.
Thought Leaders and Bloggers
You might know Sarah as The Paleo Mom, a scientist who has a fascinating series on leaky gut and the paleo autoimmune protocol and produces some yummy recipes to boot! Pre-paleo she lost 100lbs twice but it wasn’t until she found paleo that she was able to keep it off and resolve her health issues.
I go on and on about George’s recipes. He is the chef behind the computer over at Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations spending his free time cooking up fabulous new concoctions while spending his days as U.S. marine! Swoon. One of his cakes will grace the table on my next birthday.
Laura blogs at Mom Gone Paleo where she writes about life, living paleo and keeping it real. And like many of us she came to paleo searching for answers to her health problems. She says, “I want…to share those (resources) with other people like me who just don’t feel good and want to feel great!”
Sarah is the blogger behind the helm of Everyday Paleo, and author of Everyday Paleo and Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook. I feature her recipes frequently, several of them rank among my family favorites, and just happen to know her favorite brand of jeans.
Matt is one half of the Paleo Parents, Stacy, his wife, being the other half. Jointly they run their highly successful blog, have written a recipe and children’s storybook, Eat Like A Dinosaur, lost over 200lbs between them and improved the health of their whole family including their three little boys.
Jimmy of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb really does. Live the life, that is. He wrote me from Australia where he’s on a speaking tour. He also cruises around on ships where there’s occasionally drama on the high seas. And he tweets like crazy from conferences so that people know what’s going on without actually being there.
Denise blogs under the name of Irish Paleo Girl. Recently she commented about bacon. “Bacon is not the best Paleo food. It can be overused by Paleo lovers…I do not advocate eating it as much as many enthuse.” Great (and brave) comment, Denise – one I wholeheartedly agree with!
Jason is Sarah Fragoso’s partner in Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness. He is also owner of Clackamas Physical Conditioning and tours the country with Sarah promoting the paleo lifestyle through their seminars. He’s a ‘tough love, tell it like it is’ kind of guy but I sense he’s a softie at heart.
Mark is, of course, the dude behind The Primal Blueprint series of books and the hugely successful Marks Daily Apple. Always a fair and measured guy, he’s a rare bird – an entrepreneur and a maintainer – building bridges, carefully listening, offering deep respect. For a community that has it’s fair share of divisiveness, he’s done more than anyone to build the paleo/primal movement into a cohesive whole to bring it where it is today – to the brink of mainstream popularity.
The wonderful Orleatha needs no introduction – she, and her recipes, have been featured before several times on this site (chicken pot pie, anyone?) She is the author of Cooking Against The Grain and Cooking Against The Grain: Sweet Revenge, posts her recipes at Mrs Paleo Eats and Level Health and Nutrition.
Nom…nom…nom! Yes, it’s Michelle, the culinary master behind the spectacularly successful Nom Nom Paleo. Her food always looks and tastes absolutely fabulous (I’m jealous) and her chicken gravy is to die for. Nom Nom has a recipe app for the iPhone and socks, don’t forget the socks!
Lea writes at Paleo Spirit and like many came to paleo as a result of searching to answers to her health problems. Then, like many, she saw there was much more to living paleo than simply the food. As she says on her blog, “Paleo. That word has changed my life.”
Robb’s a busy guy: He is the author of the bestselling The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. He publishes a popular blog at RobbWolf.com and hosts a popular weekly Internet podcast called The Paleo Solution. He’s co-owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning and co-owner of Evolve Foods. He is also on the advisory board of Paleo Magazine. Oh, and he’s husband to Nicki and daddy to 8-months old Zoe.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Do you have any paleo advice for managing the holidays?
Sarah Ballantyne: I’m a planner by nature, so what helps me get through the holidays successfully is planning. This applies to every aspect of the holidays, from food and treats, to making sure I still get some good quality exercise, to strategies for managing stress and keeping the holidays fun. In terms of food, I will be making some paleo treats over the holidays for my family and will make sure that at least a couple of those treats are okay for me to eat (I’m on the autoimmune protocol) so that I’m not as tempted by paleo baking that contains nuts and eggs. I will probably keep a few batches of paleo cookies in the freezer for company and to bring with us to events out of the house. Actually, I keep most treats in the freezer most of the time. This way they aren’t out in the open tempting me or my children every time I walk by. And you have to plan to have a treat if it’s frozen because you have to thaw it to eat it (exceptions apply). I find we eat less treats this way, which is good for everyone.
George Bryant: This is an easy question for me. The basis for this has nothing to do with paleo or primal and everything to do with being responsible for your own health. If you are reading this then I can assume you either follow a paleo diet, just started or are considering it which puts you ahead of the power curve. That alone tells me that you care about your health and wellness so your holidays are going to be easy. Obviously there are always going to be temptations but we all know how bad they make us feel after. Your choices are simple, lead by example and do not participate. Or make your own paleo treats and pass them off as just delicious dessert and that way you can indulge and laugh under your breath when everyone else falls in love with healthy treats. But most importantly, don’t stress. If you do slip off the bandwagon whether accidentally or on purpose, tomorrow is a new day and take it for just that. Wake up and start back on the straight and narrow.
Laura Channell: It’s funny because I just wrote a whole post about this. My advice had a few tips. Tip 1: Offer to host! Helps you control your food options and ensures quality and abundant Paleo options. Tip 2: If you’re not hosting, give your host the courtesy of knowing you have some dietary restrictions and offer to bring something to share. Again, this ensures you have some options you can both enjoy and feel good about but you also ensure you won’t offend your host if you don’t eat the wonderful smorgasbord they have prepared. Tip 3: Get enough sleep: sleep deprivation drives simple carb and sugar cravings, makes you cranky and impairs your judgement. Tip 4: Watch the alcohol. I’m not saying don’t have a few drinks, just be smart. Too much alcohol creates the same issues as lack of sleep. Tip 5: Keep in mind these holidays aren’t really about the food. If you can focus on celebrating and being thankful about the right things including good health, it is a lot easier to make better decisions.
Sarah Fragoso: If you are cooking for the holidays, it’s incredibly easy to make your holidays paleo, as long as you plan ahead and commit to your health first!! Several websites (including my own) have entire holiday meals planned for you with recipes for everything from the main course, appetizers, to desserts. If you are traveling for the holidays, offer to bring a dish or two that is paleo. This way you can share with your loved ones and have food you know you can enjoy.
Matt McCarry: Make strategic decisions on special occasions. Host if you can, try your best when you can’t, and don’t feel too badly if you make a mistake!
Jimmy Moore: Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean your health is no longer worth doing the little things it takes to keep it running optimally. Stay the course, consume healthy real whole foods that are right for your body and if you feel you would like an indulgence or two in the next few weeks then makes sure you chose one of the many amazing Paleo recipes from the cookbooks and websites that specialize in that. There’s no deprivation when you feel amazing!
Denise Noone: Yes, don’t use the holidays as an excuse to undo your good work. This season is long and once you give in it becomes a slippery slope! Keep as clean as possible for as long as possible but if you really want to eat a little gravy with your turkey or a small bit of stuffing on the day, do, but just a little. Decide what you will eat beforehand so you don’t get carried away, and stick to it! Make your peace with it and then get back on track. Do not view one meal as an excuse to go off track completely.
Jason Seib: Try to take food to any holiday events you attend. That way you will at least be able to eat your own dish if most other options aren’t paleo. And try to stay out of sight of the garbage foods as much as possible. Standing by a table of treats for an hour will make you much more miserable than you would be if you don’t have to make eye contact.
Mark Sisson: Adopt the mindset of a modern forager. Scan the buffet line or dinner table for the foods you know you can eat without causing issues, and make those the major emphasis of your meal. Understand that a taste or two of a dessert (or two) won’t invalidate your ‘primalness.’ If you do choose to go far ‘off plan,’ don’t beat yourself up for doing so…just get back on in the next day or two. Find time to take a walk outside with loved ones every day if you can.
Orleatha Smith: My favorite piece of advice is to make the holidays a time to celebrate family. A tradition in our house is to hand out slips of paper as guests come in. We ask that they write 5 things that they are thankful for. Then, instead of focusing on seconds and thirds, we share what we are thankful for. Makes for great stress-free conversation – which is VERY Paleo!
Michelle Tam (Nom Nom): I try to keep family gatherings as low stress as possible. I always bring a tasty Paleo/Primal dish to share at parties. This insures that I have something to eat and lightens up the cooking load for the host/hostess. If someone offers me food that I really don’t want to eat, I just smile and say, “Not right now.” (I learned that awesome phrase from Melissa Joulwan). I’ve found that this passive tactic works like a charm and nobody’s feelings get hurt. I don’t discuss eating Paleo/Primal with friends or family who don’t ask about it. People’s food choices are like religion and politics — steer clear of those topics if you want to keep things friendly.
Lea Valle: The best advice I have for managing the holidays is to plan. As a person who is NOT a great planner it takes some motivation for me to sit down and plan out what I will do or eat over a given period. But I have learned that taking the time to organize yourself can pay huge dividends when it comes to having a successful and relatively stress-free holiday season. And I have the classic “perfectionist” tendencies so I have also had to learn to go easy on myself – especially during a very demanding season. We have to do our best but forgive ourselves when we aren’t perfect. There’s a tendency to try for “paleo perfection” and this can become counter-productive and even destructive. And finally, I recommend maintaining a positive approach during the holiday season and having a grateful attitude at all times. Framing things in a positive light can do wonders for your own mental state and can even transfer to those around you.
Robb Wolf: Have fun but be smart! We did the full Thanksgiving spread but with a twist: We used gluten-free options for things like stuffing and pie crusts. It’s great to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but a few simple tweaks can make the binge much healthier!
What is on your holiday wish list?
Sarah Ballantyne: A crock pot and a food processor. How crazy is it that I don’t own a crock pot?! I have an ice cream maker, a food dehydrator, a yogurt maker, a meat grinder, a sausage stuffer, a mandoline slicer, a juicer, and a veritable collection of silicone bake-ware. But, no crock pot. And I make large quantities of bone broth fairly frequently so I think I would get good use out of one! I also don’t own a proper food processor. I make due between my $20 blender and the food processing attachment for my $30 immersion blender. I am really hoping Santa brings me an upgrade this year. I also want a bigger kitchen to put all of my little kitchen gadgets in, but I doubt that will fit in Santa’s sleigh.
George Bryant: Well for the longest time I used to wish for every kitchen product available. Well, in the past year in the hopes of continuing to make my website better, I think I bought them all already and now have no where to put them. So if there was a Santa Claus, I would love a new kitchen. But since there isn’t one and I am my own Santa Claus, this wish might take a few years to happen but hopefully it does.
Laura Channell: Honestly nothing more than a healthy holiday. I hope to avoid the food coma and also by hosting this year, inspiring others to consider a positive change. I want to prove to friends and family that living Paleo doesn’t mean sacrifice. Quite the contrary, Paleo food is the best, most nutritious most flavorful food you can find.
Sarah Fragoso: Time with my family. Yes, it’s true. That’s all I really want.
Matt McCarry: I hope to get a Blendtec Blender so I can make my own nut butters!
Jimmy Moore: I have everything I really need and lot of what I want, too. Materialistic things have become a lot less significant to me as I’ve gone through this personal journey of transformation in my weight and health. I’ve found the best gift I could ever be given is the gift of life that the Paleo low-carb way of eating has afforded me. And I’m grateful daily for the miracle that has happened in my life to make that happen.
Denise Noone: A slow cooker!
Jason Seib: I’m just looking forward to spending time with my wife and daughters. The holidays are times when it’s not possible for unexpected work to land in my lap so they are my only true days off all year.
Mark Sisson: My wish is for my MDA and book readers to have the most rewarding year possible and to keep spreading the word about how empowering this lifestyle is for everyone. We really could change the world together.
Orleatha Smith: My holiday wish list is just one thing – a Vitamix!
Michelle Tam (Nom Nom): More sleep and quality time with my friends and family. And a case of my favorite 90% cacao chocolate bars.
Lea Valle: My big wish for this holiday season is to enjoy quality time with family and friends without succumbing to stress from trying to do too much or “be perfect”. I also wouldn’t mind a Blendtec Blender!
Robb Wolf: Remington 870 pump action shot gun for bird hunting, and maybe a sled so Zoe and I can have some fun on the snow covered hills near the house.
How do you see the paleo/primal/ancestral health movement developing in 2013?
Sarah Ballantyne: I believe the paleo/primal/ancestral health movement will continue to grow and gain momentum as more and more people hear about it from their friends, their coworkers, and with increasing frequency, their doctors. In large part, the success of this way of living is based on word-of-mouth and personal testimony. If someone takes a 30-day challenge or switches to a paleo or primal diet to address health issues or to lose weight on the advice of a friend, most of the time they discover how powerful this way of eating and living is. Their enthusiasm means that they tell their friends and family and doctors. This is definitely a grassroots movement. However, one of the things that is helping to bring this diet to the mainstream is the huge increase in high quality paleo books (both resource books and cookbooks), blogs and podcasts. Paleo is hitting the news more and more often. More and more physicians are learning about it. As awareness of the solid scientific basis for this way of eating increases, paleo will hopefully begin to enter the public consciousness as the healthiest way of eating, rather than a fad diet as it is still often viewed. I think this could be an exciting year!
George Bryant: I see it just continuing to gain positive traction as long as we all stay true to our beliefs and do not attempt to create a dogmatic society. There are enough mainstream cults that exist and we do not need to create another one. We need to be open to all people from all walks of life and encourage a healthier lifestyle instead of trying to sell one. People are interested because they have seen success or heard about it, you do not need to sell anything. Just give them all the information you can to guide them in a positive direction and watch them succeed.
Laura Channell: I can feel this movement gaining strength everyday. The more I talk about it, live it and model it the more people ask me questions about it and begin trying pieces of it for themselves. I have no doubt that this Paleo/Primal health movement will become more than just a perceived fad and will become as viable and revered for it’s health benefits as vegetarianism has in the past. The difference will be that Paleo/Primal actually is healthy!
Sarah Fragoso: Something mainstream and BIG TIME is going to happen - that’s my prediction. Paleo/Primal is no longer a strange “caveman” diet. Paleo/Primal is changing lives. Saving lives. People are asking for more and it’s not going anywhere because it WORKS!
Matt McCarry: Hopefully, we’ll get more mainstream attention and the scientific community will announce more studies that support the paleo hypothesis.
Jimmy Moore: It can only get better. So many more people are blogging, writing books, podcasting and using their incredible gifts and talents to spread the word. Quite frankly, I honestly believe we are on the verge of an explosion of interest in a real foods-based paradigm shift because the average person is wising up to what’s in their idea of ‘food.’ And it’s not a pretty picture. Those of us on the front lines of sharing information with people must be ready to handle this huge influx which is why I often tell people that they need to get active NOW so we’ll have a ground force of people ready to help educate, encourage and inspire others wanting to try Paleo, primal or low-carb. We will see glimpses of this in 2013.
Denise Noone: I think it can only grow. It has grown so much in recent years and I think it will continue to do so because it is a no-brainer! Eating real unprocessed food is the healthiest way to eat and gives great results – both weight loss wise and for health! It takes commitment as society is full of ready-meals and time-saving foods which are essentially as nutritious as cardboard, but we are also so sick something has to change and getting back to basics and eating like our ancestors is the best way for humans to eat.
Jason Seib: I’m hoping that paleo is going more mainstream and that 2013 will be a big year. It sometimes feels like many of the paleo experts are simply talking to each other while the real world paleo enthusiasts look on. I would like to see more action where the rubber meets the road.
Mark Sisson: I see substantial increases in growth at the grassroots level and among physicians. Maybe 2013 is the year we also see a large corporation undertake a company wide endorsement (with incentives) for employees. I don’t see much happening at the public policy level soon, if ever.
Orleatha Smith: I see more and more everyday people eliminating the processed junk and learning to listen to their bodies! This excites me because no matter what we call it, the paleo/primal/ancestral movement is growing at the grass-roots level – where the biggest difference will be made.
Michelle Tam (Nom Nom): I believe the movement will keep gaining momentum because it seems like everyone knows someone who’s benefited from eating Paleo/Primal. It’s exciting to see Paleo becoming more mainstream and less fringe.
Lea Valle: I hope to see the paleo/primal/ancestral health movement go more mainstream. My personal view is the focus has been too much on the evolution component as a justification for this way of eating/exercising. My experience in marketing informs me this approach will inevitably limit the appeal of the movement. The focus should be on educating people on the benefits of the diet and fitness recommendations. The scientific data is strong and personal experiences are compelling enough that resorting to references to “how cavemen ate” is unnecessary and actually detrimental to getting the message out to the mainstream.
Robb Wolf: Things just seem to keep getting bigger, the reach continues to grow. We will see some academic based certifications rolling out, new books (like Chris Kresser’s), possibly even a TV show.
What paleo plans do you have for 2013? Either in your business or for you personally?
Sarah Ballantyne: I am approaching the one year anniversary of living on the Autoimmune Protocol. It has made a tremendous difference to my health, even though I still feel like I am trying to figure out where my line is in terms of tolerance of carbohydrate-rich foods and non-AIP foods like nuts and seeds. I will be continuing to follow the autoimmune protocol, continuing to work to understand the nuances of the intersection of autoimmune disease and diet, and continuing to write about it on my blog. I also have some fun recipe ideas to work on in the New Year (both AIP-friendly and standard paleo). And, we have some great topics coming for new episodes of The Paleo View podcast, a project that I am greatly enjoying working on. I feel pretty busy, but I do have some other big projects in the works and will be announcing them on my blog in the New Year.
George Bryant: Well for Civilized Caveman Cooking I just hope to continue to bring people lots and lots of new recipes weekly to help encourage healthy eating and teaching people how to cook. My passion really is watching people make life changes through food and it warms my soul every time someone enjoys one of my recipes. I am not a science-y geek guy, I will leave that up to my awesome role models Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and I will keep it simple and delicious. Personally, I plan to just continue to learn more about my body and what my optimum health entails and share it with everyone.
Laura Channell: I have a few goals. First to move the needle with my own children. They have been my biggest challenge. I begain Paleo in late 2009 but didn’t know it was Paleo and was eating this way for personal health issues that I thought were mine alone. Obviously I now know this is an overall health intiative for everyone but my kids are 14 and 12 and did not grow up eating this way. I control what is in my home and what I cook, but they have many outside forces. The more convinced they are the better their choices will be when on their own at school or at a friends house. Second I am working on a jump start guide for the busy and the weary. I want to get that published and third, I will have my Health Coach license in March and I want to begin that career path.
Sarah Fragoso: My family and I are going to continue with our world travels as I continue to work on developing my international cookbook series! Traveling the world with my family has been life changing. We are learning so much from other cultures both about lifestyle and food that I can’t wait to continue to share our adventures with you all! Personally, for 2013, I want to nurture areas of my life that have not been a priority due to taking care of little children and focusing on Everyday Paleo. I want to take salsa lessons with John and I want to work more in my yard and plant a huge garden, and I’m excited about our latest adventure – raising chickens!!
Matt McCarry: We’re getting close to being able to announce our next big project for 2013! I know we’re very excited about it and know everyone else will be as well!
Jimmy Moore: Lots of excitement is building for the new year for me as I embark on writing a book about reading your cholesterol test results for Victory Belt. I’ll be interviewing many of the world’s experts on the lipid health markers and what they truly mean. I’m attending the Paleo FX conference in March, the Nutrition and Metabolism Symposium in San Diego in April, hosting the Low-Carb Cruise in May, and the Ancestral Health Symposium in August providing live tweeting and disseminating information to my readers and podcast listeners, And, of course, my podcast interviews will resume in January for a month before I take a brief sabbatical from them as I finish my book. There’s also interest in me writing a book about my nutritional ketosis n=1 experiment which will continue through May 2013. I just concluded a speaking tour through Australia and would love the opportunity to do more of this kind of thing in the United States and in other parts of the world. Exciting things are happening for sure and it’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of it.
Denise Noone: To continue to contribute to my page’s fan base and to continue my education to become an holistic nutritional therapist.
Jason Seib: My book, The Paleo Coach, will be released on March 5, so 2013 will be a big year for me. There will be lots of seminars, podcasts, blog posts, too. I have some other huge irons in the fire, but nothing I can talk about yet. 2013 will be a great year.
Mark Sisson: Huge growth for the Primal Blueprint business in 2013, including two PrimalCons (sold out,) the start of a luxury retreat program, a training certification program, an at-home 21-day Primal Immersion course, and several new books being launched, to name just a few things.
Orleatha Smith: Book #3 will be published. Level Health and Nutrition will be expanding into corporate wellness where I believe that I can reach more people with the Paleo message. I will also take the MCAT to prepare for medical school! Yep – you read that right! Planning on being a Paleo doctor!
Michelle Tam (Nom Nom): I have a personal goal of incorporating more organ meat and nasty bits into our family’s diet. I know, I’m an offal mommy. When I’m not busy working as a zombie drug dealer or parenting, I’ll be putting out a new update for the Nom Nom Paleo app for the iPad® . The new version will include additional recipes and a new twist that will (hopefully) make everyone happy. I also have a few projects in the pipeline that’ll appease my readers sans electronic devices.
Lea Valle: Having recently gone back to work in a very demanding full-time job, my primary goal is to maintain my fitness level and keep stress at bay. It is already requiring that I learn to become much more efficient with my time for food preparation and making every workout count. I hope to be able to share some my learnings from this experience with others in similar circumstances. A revamp to my website is also planned for 2013. I would like to customize it a bit and make it more appealing and reader-friendly. I have grown to love food photography and I would like to continue to develop this in the coming months.
Robb Wolf: I’m going to really try to get outside more…I have a lot of work to do but being shackled to a keyboard is decidedly non-paleo! We are looking into a retreat that we may offer to folks and I will be at Mark Sisson’s PrimalCon at the end of the year.
That was a monster post but I thought it was worth it! Did you find it interesting? What’s on your holiday wish list? What are you most looking forward to in 2013? Tell us the comments!
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