In my childhood we celebrated the holidays at my grandmother’s and just the thought of the holiday feast would make me groan with pain. The table would be laden with over 50 dishes, including appetizers, sides, mains and desserts made by my grandmother or my aunts. We couldn’t stop eating. We ate because the food tasted so good. We ate because it was my grandmother's special holiday delicacies. We ate because we did not want to insult anyone by not eating what they prepared. We were stuffed. We were in pain. But we kept on eating because the food kept coming.
Many women dread holiday meals or regard them with guilt, but holidays do not have to mean a departure from health. Here are some tips that I follow and share with my clients.
If you feel vulnerable, trying hard to create a healthier lifestyle, feeling that participating in the holiday meals will be a trigger that will send you in an unwanted direction or your family’s holiday experience is stressful and full of negativity, it is ok to step back and decline an invitation. You can celebrate on a smaller scale or just take the time to practice self-care and self-nourishment.
If you really don't want to eat something but aunt Suzy made it "just for you”, have a bite and tell her how delicious her food is. When people try to "push" food on you It is usually because they want to be appreciated so a few words of praise will often do the trick.
The holidays seems to revolve around food but they don't have to. Brainstorm different ways that you and your family can have fun and connect. Start a new tradition by walking in the park together, playing board games, having a singing competition, enjoying a dance party or come up with family quizzes. Everyone will have fun and will start associating those activities with the holidays (instead of just sitting around eating).
A holiday does not have to become a holliweek. If you are trying to eat healthier and lighter consider cooking less, giving your guests care packages of leftovers, or portioning and freezing leftovers for future meals.
This is my favorite tip to my clients: for every non vegetable dish make two vegetable dishes! Your table will look full, festive and colorful but still be two thirds vegetables. Also, eat your veggies first. You will fill up on nutrient and fiber rich food and eat smaller portions of everything else.
Look for healthier versions of holiday foods. Make grain and bean salads. Use lighter ingredients and swaps. Use whole and organic ingredients. When your food is high in nutrition content you will be more satisfied and will have less cravings later.
Rachel Kieffer is a certified nutrition and health coach* living in New York with her family. She has worked with thousands of clients to transform their health and lives through her private consultation programs, workshops, women’s groups and writing. “I believe that every woman has a birth right to be deeply in love with herself and create a magnificent life that she loves. And that includes a joyous relationship with food, radiant health, and being completely pleased with how she looks.” Please visit HealthNutGirl.com to learn more about Rachel’s services.
*Certified by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP)
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