The Holidays and Eating

As I enjoy the holiday, surrounded by friends and family, I happily engage in catch up conversations of life, work, kids, etc. And while food is being presented in beautiful dishes on a spread that would bring tears to the eyes of third world counties, the banter begins about being “good” or being “bad” during the holidays. And I’m not talking about personal achievements or actions, but rather the consumption of food.

Now, regardless of your faith, non-faith, profession, or age, food is a fundamental aspect of celebration. Happy new years! Happy birthday! Happy retirement! Happy Wednesday! Admit it. Food is synonymous with celebration. And usually celebrations do not feel complete until the cake is cut and dessert is serviced. So why is it that so many people express their timely performance in the world of eating? Their shade of will power or lack there of? Their invisible internal struggles of two wants? The dichotomy between indulging in pleasurable food and the overwhelming desire for weight loss.

Whether we like it or not, we live in an “all or nothing” world. And food is no exception. I hear too often, “I had a bad day.” And how unfortunate that a “bad” day means that favorite or prized foods were consumed. It is like an unforeseen vehicular accident: “I saw the Doritos there and I just HAD to have them…. The whole bag!!” An avoidable and tragic encounter. Oh, the horror.

So I would pose the question back, “Did you enjoy it?” Likely not. Because every bite translated into one step further away from the goal: controlled eating. And we ALL know what happens next. As soon as one “loses all control,” the “good” eating plan is abandoned. As is the confidence and patience to get back on track.

After solving world peace and world hunger, I would LOVE to address the unfortunate and unnecessary guilt that is infused in the modern way of thinking about food. And why exactly is it that a “good” eating day can can appear so painful, restrictive, and well, crazy. Don’t you love it (and you know what I’m talking about here) when a coworker or friend vents to you that they only had a salad today or (I love this one) forgot to eat. It’s a self-fulfilling, compliment-seeking statement, presented as a conundrum but is truly a complaint. Because hey, they are hungry and grumpy about it. How to respond? Go get a sandwich. Conversation over.

Food is pleasure. Pleasurable. Food is also completely and constantly and repeatedly necessary. And I will save for another day but food, that is good food, is so critically necessary for our health and livelihood.

So during the holidays, embrace the festivities with friends, family AND food. Leave the guilt at home. Permit yourself one meal to enjoy the adored foods without the all or nothing mentality. And know that you have many MANY more meals and days to NOT enjoy these special and perhaps one-time-a-year foods. So, live it up!

And if you need more specific guidelines, consider these tips:

– Have a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday meal so you are not starving.
– Drink plenty of water during the meal.
– Eat slowly. Focus on the people you are with and the reason for the celebration.
– Keep your meal balanced: make sure fruits, vegetables and protein are prominent on your plate.
– Permit yourself the foods that you love. Remember, the first bite tastes just as good as the last, so a large portion is never necessary.


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