Shannon’s Holiday Edit

By Coach Josh Workout Comments Off on Shannon’s Holiday Edit

Shannon’s Holiday Edit

They’re out there, lurking at the end of the calendar, Thanksgiving & Hankwanzasolstimas, the big food holidays. Together they can deliver a devastating one-two-punch to any healthy eating plan. It’s been over ten years since I started eating Primally but it took a while to come to a reasonable truce with the “Eating Season.”
I’d be rocking and rolling with my new eating style, feeling great and seeing results, but the looming prospect of groaning holiday tables and cultural expectations sapped my confidence and filled me with dread. I’d fret constantly, weighing how I felt about going off plan with how it felt to abstain.
On one hand, going off plan for a time or two is no big deal. When one has a really supportive diet it is easy to get right back on track after a meal of celebration. However, that meant I’d be eating foods that didn’t support me, which felt weird. Part of me would want to push the plate away even right after I filled it.  And is it really just one meal? The pie for breakfast and oh, god, the leftovers. Do I waste food?  December has big eating opportunities the whole month long. Good times for sure, but so much sugar.  One year I decided to mentally ignore Christmas until it actually arrived but I was beaten down by eggnog lattes. They were everywhere! I felt defeated and quite frankly angry and exhausted.
The flip side, for me, was not doable either. Food is a huge part of cultural celebrations.  If I stay super committed to my eating plan and abstain doesn’t it feel like I’m not participating? Did the holiday even happen for me? I’d feel left out of the fun like a snobby, ungracious stuffed shirt. That’s not what I wanted at all, but I also didn’t want the January sugar-blues, the weight gain, the rich food holiday hangover. I didn’t want to feel sick. I just wanted to celebrate.  Again, I ended up feeling defeated and angry.
So one year, I decided to not let the holidays push me around anymore. I put on my war helmet and my grownup pants. I grabbed a sharp red pencil and did a Big Holiday Edit. My guiding questions:  What do I enjoy the most? What says “T-day or Christmas” to me most?  What am I most nostalgic about?  What sounds like the most fun?  Then I would change or edit out all that didn’t fit my criteria. “Mosts” for me included things like making pumpkin pie, setting a beautiful table with my grandmother’s china, playing cards in the evenings, and cooking together with family and friends. Items that got the axe right away included the three kinds of potatoes in addition to the stuffing and rolls, dinner late, Christmas cookie exchanges, mimosas, watching tv after the big meal, and eating to the point I couldn’t blink.
It felt a little odd at first to just say no to some of my family’s traditional foods.  To put my foot down and say “this year the big meal will be at 2pm” (so that we can have a big long walk afterwards). But then it felt like I was saying “Yes” to a whole lot of other things. With my focus shifted away from the food the other non-food holiday traditions became more important.   I could relax. It wasn’t such a battle anymore. I felt free to really change things, too.  One trick I found to really shake up the holiday traditions is to have the big meal in a restaurant.  Wild and crazy, I know. One plate, no left overs and no dishes!
When one is trying hard to control their food it can feel like that’s all there is to the holidays.  My holiday edit allowed me to really see what was meaningful to me and what I could easily do without.

Happy Friday!
Shannon

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