There are hundreds of blog posts written about “surviving the holidays.” Such advice as “avoid the snack table at all cost” “eat before the party” “it’s okay to binge during the holidays-just let go” “only eat veggies at the snack tables” and the list goes on and on. Everyone has tips that might indeed work for them. However, their suggestions may not work for you! Here are my tips that are centered around empowering you to make the best decisions for yourself!
1. We all have different things that work for us and things that don’t work for us. Why? because we are bio-individuals. Some of us get very sick if we eat even the smallest amount of gluten. Some just feel better without it, but can manage small amounts. Same goes for other foods. Some of us have emotional eating patterns that require a different way of processing eating. These individuals may need to let loose for their emotional well-being. There is no one approach to surviving the holidays. My advice is to listen to your body and your personal needs (both physical and emotional). Think about the decisions you are making, keeping your mental, spiritual, and physical well-being in mind. Think about what works for YOU and no one else. Don’t let people pressure you into eating something that you know will have you buckled over in pain an hour later. That is not respecting yourself. Don’t avoid eating something you want to eat if you know your body can process it. Be in tune with yourself.
2. If you react to a certain food and it makes you feel sick, consider avoiding it or making a substitution. If you think you can handle it, then enjoy it. If you think you will feel terrible after eating it, don’t eat it. Or eat it and take some digestive enzymes with it to help your body process it. Don’t overthink it. Either way, you will be okay. Just keep “you” in mind when making these decisions.
3. Remember that holidays are not only about food! Our culture puts a very strong emphasis on food. In fact, I think we are in the midst of a national eating disorder. We just don’t know what to do. We *think* holidays are all about food, and must include gluttonous amounts of it. However, there are so many other things we can make emotional connections with over the holidays, and we CAN let go of that notion that is socially entwined in our being. That notion that there needs to massive amounts of sugar laden treats for every holiday get together. Savor the beam in your child’s eyes when they look at the ornaments on the tree, instead of savoring the plate of cookies. You might realize that you are just doing what you are accustomed to doing, and that they aren’t as joyful as some other senses you can experience over the holidays. Be in the moment. Experience the laughing and joke telling. Experience the smells of the pine. Listen to the music. Take pleasure in the sites, scents, experiences. Re-establish some of the connections in your brain that are use to old ways. This might help you to be more in tune with yourself. You will start to show yourself some kindness, love and respect. Create one tradition that does not involve food. Take the emphasis off of food, and enjoy some of the other aspects of the season.
4. Take the time to prepare dishes that you know will not make you sick. Bring these dishes to holiday get togethers. Most people just aren’t aware of the versatility of eating real food. The holidays are a great time to teach others you can survive without some of these culturally normal food items that cause more harm to the body than good. I have a client of mine who is proudly hosting her first Paleo Thanksgiving. There are so many amazing and inspirational recipes out there! People think this lifestyle is restrictive because they do not know very much about it. We are fearful of what we don’t know. We are fearful of what is different from what we’ve been taught. Once we realize that eating real food really can be amazing, bountiful, and flavorful, we settle down. So take this opportunity to teach. Not in a “preaching” way. Just bring some awesome real food and watch your family enjoy it! People learn by example.
5. Smile more, and let it go. Enjoy this short season, and stop trying to be perfect for everyone, while being angry with yourself. Be true to yourself. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and fight back.”-Anne Lamott
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