11.10.20 Tips for Pleasant Holiday Feasting

The holidays are just around the corner and whether or not you’re going to be feasting alone or with friends and family, I sure hope you’re planning some yummy food and fall dishes! I don’t know if you’ve asked yourself this, but a question that’s been coming up in my mind is, “How do I enjoy all the delicious baking and cooking without being sorry for it?” It is so lovely to feast on turkey and stuffing, creamy potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, vibrant cranberry sauce, fluffy rolls, raspberry jam… Not to mention the desserts - maybe apple crisp, pumpkin cheese cake, pecan pie?

These are the traditional foods that I look forward to! I’d love to know your favorites and family traditions!

We look forward to these foods, the cozy days, the baking, the sweet and cinnamony smells… But have you ever been miserable after eating too much or making poor choices if you have food sensitivities? These are things I have to deal with and I’d like to share a mindset and some tips to help you navigate the holiday season with enjoyment and no regret!

The first thing that comes to mind is eat slowly. Really slow down and savor the flavor! Look at your food before you eat. Be thankful for these recipes and the pleasure they bring. Put your fork down every once in a while and enjoy the company or the smells, sights, and sounds around you. This way you don’t have to go back for seconds just to have the flavors in your mouth longer! Really taste and appreciate them the first time around.

Something I plan on doing is reminding myself that if there is a dish that I really like, I can make it again. I ADORE sweet potato casserole and it is quite easy to make it without dairy and gluten and cut back on sugar or use maple syrup. So instead of going back for seconds (or I confess, thirds or fourths), I’m going to tell myself that I can make it again next week to continue to enjoy those lovely flavors. This way I don’t over stuff myself and make myself miserable for the rest of the day, but at the same time not feel like I’m making a huge sacrifice or missing out.

If you are in charge of making a dish, decide if you are going to make it the traditional way (that might include gluten, dairy, sugar, or other common allergens), find a recipe that avoids your common triggers, OR is a more clean, whole foods option. If you’ve made it the traditional way, remember to take a small portion so that you don’t have to deal with a reaction. Also, if you have family members or friends with allergies or sensitivities, be sure to let them know it is a traditional recipe. If you’ve made some substitutions, an easy, thoughtful way to let people know, would be to put the recipe next to the dish. That way we can check for ourselves and make a well informed decision. For instance, I could make green bean casserole with the regular canned soup, milk, and fried onions and not have any at all. Second option would be to find or make a dairy free/gluten free cream of mushroom soup and fry my own onions. (These are so good I have to make 3x the amount needed just so I have enough left for the recipe! True confessions!) Third option would be to roast green beans with maybe some maple syrup, bacon, mushrooms, and onions. I’ve done all three options for family gatherings and they are always gone!

A fourth recommendation is know yourself and stick to your limits. If you can have butter on your roll but not a casserole made with milk or cheese, don’t make yourself miserable by eating what your body will make you sorry for! Or if you get a mild headache from eating sugar and your desire for cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie is greater than your concern over a mild headache, go ahead! By all means. But if you are going to complain and gripe and be miserable for hours, stop the ladle or pie server and get in touch with your intuition. Is it worth it? For me it helps to meditate on these things beforehand so that I don’t make last minute calls that are probably going to be poor and regretful.

Something I’ve been telling myself lately is that gathering with friends or family is not about the food. (Maybe this reveals just how twisted my relationship with food has unfortunately become, but I want to be honest here in case there are other people struggling with these things!) So I remind myself that these events are about the relationships with my friends and family. The conversations, the experiences together, the sharing of memories, laughing over a joke, being open about a rough patch in life. Eating together is such a joy and intimate experience for sure, but it isn’t about what I can or can’t eat. That takes away joy and focus on others, which is definitely not the mind and heart space I want to be in!

No matter what decisions we’ve made and whether we are happy or regretful, here are a few more practical digestion tips:

-Before or during your meal take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice diluted in a small portion of water.

-Take a digestive enzyme.

-If you are lactose intolerant, be sure to have lactase pills on hand.

-If you are gluten intolerant, try an enzyme supplement designed to help with gluten. (I haven’t tried this but it works for some.)

-Take a few deep belly breaths before, during and after eating.

-Don’t drink a ton of liquid with your meal.

-Take slow walk or try Yoga with Adriene ‘Yoga for Digestion’

-Be happy and be thankful!

Don’t forget to let me know your favorite dishes and traditions around Thanksgiving!