Is that you?
- You dread the bloated feeling you often get after a holiday meal with family
- You do mental somersaults plotting how to avoid the turkey without appearing like the oddball
- You cherish the family traditions, but not the butter and marshmallows
When our clients pepper us with questions about how to stay on track with their new, healthy habits during the holidays, even those who know us and our approach very well are surprised at our answer – which is simply to relax.
Eat what you want and allow everyone else at your table to do the same.
As rigid as many of us get with our eating habits, it’s important to remember that the holidays are just a few days in the year. It’s the food in our daily routine that should be our focus. And, when it comes to sharing a meal with others, we have to remember that everyone at the table has their own preferences and considerations.
With obesity and other health concerns becoming more prevalent, we are each choosing our own dietary path (Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesci-vegetarian and more). And, food is such a personal thing, it has the power to either bring people together or to divide.
How do we come together at the table with all of our different food preferences and still enjoy ourselves?
There is a way. Are you ready? It might be easier than you think.
Don’t drive yourself crazy with worry thinking about the food or trying to accommodate every preference. Instead, consider these four simple ingredients for a Thanksgiving that everyone at the table can enjoy.
Four Special Ingredients Served TKS-style:
It is Thanksgiving, after all! The entire point of this holiday is to express gratitude and to celebrate sustenance and abundance – in our food, relationships and lives. So, let go of the guilt and expectations at the table and instead focus your attention on the gratitude you feel.
How to serve: Seek the gratitude that is at every Thanksgiving table. Even when a Thanksgiving spread is not your ideal, you can find beauty in the offering. A few years ago, I shared a meal with orphans in Peru. The sanitary conditions were terrible, which made the meal very unappealing. And yet, being with those kids who were so grateful, I couldn’t help but appreciate that meal, in ways I will never forget.
There are lots of debates about which diet is best. And yet, If science is proving anything, it’s that we are each unique and that there really is no one-size-fits-all approach. If there was, we would all eat the same thing and be in perfect health. Everyone at the table is on their own journey. How about allowing a day of guilt-free eating for everyone present by accepting all choices without judgement?
How to serve: Connect beyond the food. Instead of making guilt the focus of the sweet potato casserole or pecan pie, center the conversation on its history in your family – where the recipe started, your earliest memory of it, who was there. You may uncover a forgotten family story.
Sometimes we expect our families to accommodate our preferences when we ‘come home’ for a holiday meal – instead of realizing we are guests. Generosity happens on both sides of the table. Recognize what your host is truly offering through this meal – time, love, memories, connection, thankfulness.
How to serve: Make it easy on your host. Ask how you can help contribute to the meal. If you are the host, ask your guests if they have food preferences you should be aware of. Let them know what to expect and welcome them to bring their own option.
When you share a meal, everyone at the table makes compromises – in food, conversations, etc. Everyone has given up something in order to be together. And, that in and of itself is something to be thankful for.
How to serve: Acknowledge the compromises at the table. Make it clear that it’s okay for your guests to eat something they normally wouldn’t and it’s okay for them to refrain from eating something they really don’t want. Thank everyone for the sacrifice they made to be together.
When you make room at your table for gratitude, acceptance, generosity and compromise it will remove the dread of the feast and ensure a space for the every food preference and tradition to feel comfortable, satisfied and grateful.
What will help you serve these ingredients at your Thanksgiving table?
Holidays are special days, and we hope this article helps you enjoy yours more. Healthy practices are just that – ongoing practices that help us do, feel and be our best. Here at TKS we believe in shame-free eating. In our next issue, we’ll share why. (Hint: It’s not your fault!) Stay tuned for more strategies and support on how to eat well – in your way, in your style.
Photo Credit: NorthwestNomad