Are you having a caveman holiday? Meaning, are you on the paleo diet and plan to stick to it through Christmas? Don’t fear. You can do it without missing out on all the favorite flavors of the season.
The task of eating on the paleo diet may seem daunting when it comes to traditional holiday fare. This is especially true given some of the big no-nos on the diet are grains, flour, dairy, and refined sugar. But really, it can be done and by the looks of the recipes, it doesn’t look like you’ll be missing much.
The staples of a paleo diet are meats, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and seeds. So if you were to look at a traditional holiday meal, the main course is often meat. Whether it be a turkey, a roast, or a ham, this part isn’t too tricky. Many recipes call for the meat to be cooked with savory herbs and spices and a few tweaks like honey and cider vinegar. Nothing too difficult.
When it comes to sides, again, vegetables are approved here. If you’re wanting creamy potatoes or marshmallows in the sweet potatoes, you might run into some challenges, but nothing that will sacrifice flavor. Many use almond milk or coconut to cream up the potato dishes, and good green vegetables never need much to taste great in the first place.
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“They don’t care because they’re already built to where they look good. They’re a freak show, they’re ripped, they’re lean and they can jump high, so they don’t care…”
These are the word of Chris Kamen, Los Angeles Lakers player, referring to how nearly 90 percent of NBA players do not eat properly or care about their bodies.
Kamen’s thoughts, along with many other NBA players’, were captured by NBA reporter Ken Berger in a three-part series running on CBS Sports this week. The first article in the series, titled Nutrition in the NBA: Part 1: Lessons Learned in L.A. Help Howard’s Career, closely follows Dwight Howard, former Laker now a Houston Rocket, and many of his former teammates as they undergo a major diet overhaul at the advisement of Dr. Cate Shanahan.
In a nutshell, Dr. Shanahan reports in the article that she watched Howard play in a Lakers’ game last season and while she saw a strong outer shell, what stuck out was how she could compare this professional athlete to a pre-diabetic patient. She said Howard looked like he was wearing oven mitts and she feared he was having a major neurological problem due to sugar intake. Her observations lead to Howard being her prime test subject for a diet change that she believed would improve the entire NBA.
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When Elizabeth Candela was 17, she had a friend who was trying to get fit as he entered the Marines. He asked her to run a mile with him. She couldn’t do it. That made her mad and from that day forward, she committed to being a runner. She’s a determined runner who continues to overcome obstacles; some so huge most of us would have thrown in the towel a very long time ago.
After that first attempted mile, Candela ran for health and to stay in shape; nothing too serious. In 2001, she explains that running’s role in her life evolved, dramatically. Candela’s husband was one of the victims in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He and nearly 3,000 others were unable to escape the World Trade Center that awful day. Candela needed running to help her deal with the pain. Additionally, she needed an outlet to manage the stress of raising two children as an only parent.
In 2008, Candela was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Now, more than ever, she had to focus on her health. She explains that she was determined to stay healthy for her family, something that motivated her to go back to school and study Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Currently this amazing runner has her American College of Sports Medicine Health Fitness Specialist Certification and is in the process of getting her American Dietetics Association Registered Dietitian’s License.
This is enough, right? You’re just as amazed as I am, right?
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Sometimes the passions that drive our lives just sneak up on us like a happy accident. For Abby Bales, running started early. By the 5th grade she was running short track distances. One year later her long distance running career started on a whim. As Bales was preparing for volleyball tryouts the next morning, a friend called and asked if she’d be interested in trying out for cross country instead. That phone call directed Bales into the sport she still loves today. While starting was easy for this natural talent, continuing has presented its challenges. However, what most of us would call a challenge, Bales has made look like a walk in the park.
From the sixth grade cross country team all the way through high school, Bales has run competitively. She completed her first marathon, the 2003 New York City Marathon, as a way to stay fit after graduating from college. She continued to rack up marathon finishes over the years until her first real hurdle appeared in 2010, when a diagnosis for ulcerative colitis “quickly became very serious and debilitating.” Bales stated that her running suffered, even though she managed to complete two marathons during flare-ups of her condition.
Bales was not responding to medication and got very sick. By 2012 she had her colon removed and replaced with a temporary colostomy bag for five months. Despite this huge obstacle, training commenced.
“It was really, really hard to start training again because my muscles were so atrophied and depleted after the surgery. It was a major surgery and my organs leached amino acids from my muscles to heal, which meant I had zero muscles left. It had never been that hard for me to run ever in my life,” said Bales.
Bales had plenty of reasons to throw in the towel, but clearly that’s not her style. After regaining her strength, Bales ran even with a colostomy bag.
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Most inspiring stories have unlikely beginnings. This is true when you look at the running career of Danielle Hastings. This avid runner, also known as The T-Rex Runner, is a distinguished member of the Marathon Maniacs and is completing her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. “I have finished 34 states and plan on completing all 50 states by June 2015.”
Hard to believe this is the same runner who quit the soccer team on the first day of practice because the coach made her run a lap. The sport has lead Hastings to and through so many places.
Hastings quit the soccer team when she was seven and remained a non-runner until after college. She shamelessly admits she gave running a try after seeing others running down the street and thinking they “looked really cool.” She further admits she got serious about running a few months after she married and it began to fall apart. “It got me out of the house during a rough time,” said Hastings.
The running pretty much won out, and she told us how running serves as her continued outlet for life’s struggles.
“I would say the biggest obstacle that I have (almost) overcome is my 11-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia,” she admitted. Running has helped her deal with the eating disorders that she has battled since age 16. Unlike many, running is not a trigger for the disorder in Hastings’ case.
“Running has been an outlet for my stress and anxiety and has helped me change the way I view food,” something is no longer Hastings’ enemy. She’s continually learning to see food as fuel. Admittedly, she explains it’s still a daily battle, but one she’s winning thanks to running.
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