So the holidays are here and it’s time to gain 5 pounds, right? There are the temptations of peanut butter balls, sugar cookies, gingerbread, cheese balls, and chex mix. And of course there are all the special breakfast breads, fruit cake, candied popcorn, eggnog and special drinks that have to be made, “gifted” and eaten.
Or does it have to happen this way? A tradition is a way of thinking, doing or behaving that has been done by a group or organization for a long time. What is the point of your holiday traditions? Is the emphasis on getting all the family together to have some hugs, laughs and catch up time? Or is it really just about the favorite foods and consuming so many goodies that you feel stuffed, nauseated and regretful? Is the fear of disappointing a friend or family member over food really that important? This can be an opportunity to reevaluate and think about the holiday traditions differently. Make just a few of the holiday favorites and put more emphasis on being together, playing games and just having fun. Isn’t this a better way to make the holidays merrier and with less work and gluttony?
How about approaching the holiday more mindfully and with a plan. When you go to a party decide ahead of time how you will negotiate the appetizers, and what your dinner and dessert plate will look like. Deciding this ahead of time is like making a promise to yourself and provides the self talk you will use to block out the impulsive self. Without a plan the impulsive self says, “I want this and this and this because it’s a special occasion and I’m justified”. With a plan our manager self says, “Look at all the appetizers, dinner choices, desserts and drinks and choose just some of them. That is all you will really enjoy and eat it with awareness and full engagement.”
When you prepare your holiday meal why not include a pretty vegetable tray with the colors of Christmas – red radishes and peppers, green scallions and asparagus and white celery and cauliflower? Have some of the cheese ball, but fill half of your plate with the colors of the vegetables. For dinner, have the roast beef, ham or turkey but find some new recipes for vegetables. How often do we think of vegetables in the same light as the meat in our dinner? Why not try some roasted veggies, sautéed chopped green cabbage, Brussel sprouts and onion or some steamed broccoli tossed in olive oil and a touch of salt? Why do the vegetables get second billing all the time? Bring them front and center.
Instead of gobbling down your dinner in minutes and going for seconds before any indications of fullness can register, eat your meal with awareness. Make the meal an event taking inventory of all your senses – the smell of the food, the visual appearance, the sounds as your cut and chew each bite, and the taste and texture of your food choices. Be mindful as you take each bite, chew slowly and savor all the flavors. Make just one dessert but make it a really wonderful family favorite, have a smaller piece than usual and savor it!
The holidays are a time of joy and celebration. Let it be more about the people, conversations and enjoying some of the favorite family food traditions without all the gorging, gluttony, and guilt.