An advertisement for a holiday eating nutrition seminar recently came across my desk. It read, Holiday Eating Survival: Worried about holiday overeating? Dreading the physical exhaustion and food remorse that seems to flow from party to party?
A few key words jumped off the page and punched me right in the gut.
“survival”, “worry”, “dread”,” exhaustion”, and finally “remorse”
As an advocate for food as the wingman in living a wildly active lifestyle, I wondered how prevalent it was to see the word “survival” associated with holiday eating; and so I asked the Google machine. It spat out 19,600,000 hits containing the language “Holiday Eating Survival”. Where is the Holiday Eating Enjoyment Guide? Not a one.
When did holiday eating become something you must “survive”? You survive a desert for days with no food or water, being lost at sea, or living on the streets. Survival seems like an awfully strong word for something that brings you together with family, friends, or a cozy experience.
For me, the purpose of holiday gatherings, meals and treats are to bring people together and connect over our need to eat. The food is hardly the main event. Yet, we let the food become the focal point so much so that it becomes a point of stress for both the eaters and the cooks. It becomes a point of contentious angst instead of connection. I have seen it happen many times.
It is intensely personal when someone invites you into their home and cooks for you. Heading into it as if you are preparing for battle. Your hosts are sharing a piece of themselves. Ok, so maybe Grandma thinks you are too skinny and wants to fatten you up, or maybe your Aunt Lucy refuses to acknowledge your vegetarianism. Of course, proceed with caution into these environments and bring something to contribute to the meal that you know you can eat. Just as I tell my kids:
- Be kind
- Be gracious
- Say “no thank you” with a smile
Don’t forget how to eat with purpose!
Give yourself room to be human by continuing to eat with purpose and set an intention with each eating occasion. Recognize why you are eating this food and determine how much of it you need to meet that intention. That level of awareness is a gamechanger to eating. It takes away the angst and the need to “survive” the occasion by putting you in services of whatever intention you decide it. Maybe it is to satisfy hunger or nutrient needs. It very well could be “just for the of the taste of it” and that is a-ok so long as you are aware of it.
Here are a few more tips for embracing a healthy holiday season!
- Move it – Like the postal person – rain, shine, sleet, or snow – get out for some type-two fun the elements can offer.
- Be selective – Not all holiday treats are that good, really, so skip some.
- Take in the scene! Pause before you devour every bite on your plate and enjoy the conversation, the table setting, or just good people watching.
- Don’t go hungry! Eat your regular healthy meals and snacks so the hunger monster doesn’t take over at the buffet.
- Eat breakfast! This relates to “not going hungry”. Skipping meals saves neither time nor calories at the end of the day.