Halloween feels like it was just yesterday, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Wow! November flew by. Pretty soon it will be Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and then Easter will slow down the relentless flow of Holidays until the Fourth of July.
Don’t get me wrong, I love holidays. I love the joy they bring. I adore the togetherness and kindness they inspire. I live for Holiday cheer. And I’m the best and worst kind of consumer. Put a santa hat on it and I must have it.
But we can’t deny that holidays tend to center around food. And tomorrow is the grand pooh bah of foodie holidays. Obviously, these days my love for food runs deep. But there was a time where the idea of an entire day focusing around a meal would have given me extreme anxiety.
As a teenager I had an eating disorder. In my early twenties, I experimented with strict weight loss diets that created a lot of tension around the subject of food. For some people food brings up images of happy tummies and warm fuzzy feelings. For others, it brings up apprehension and fear. So, I think it’s important for the next couple of months to practice making our Holiday Tables a Safe Place.
- Don’t Talk about “Good” and “Bad” foods on the table. Even as a health coach in training and a passionate Vegan I don’t think there are good and bad foods. Every food has its benefits, even if it’s purely about the pleasure they give. Do not talk about how tomorrow you’ll regret the cranberry tart you ate, because someone else at the table may not have realized they should feel guilty about how happy dessert made them.
- Don’t mention people’s figure. I know it comes from a supportive place, but when you say “Wow! You look so skinny!!” the thoughts running through the other person’s heads aren’t always so positive. Sometimes they’ll think about how they should limit their food intake so that they can keep getting compliments on how skinny they look. Sometimes they might think that they’re not skinny enough. Or it might make other’s wonder why you didn’t comment on their figures as well. Likewise, I think it goes without saying; do not mention people’s weight gain. If you want to compliment someone, tell them how their eyes sparkle. Tell them how happy they seem. Tell them they’re glowing. Those comments are sure to brighten someone’s holiday.
- Make sure the menu has variety. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean we can’t be balanced! I have this joke that Thanksgiving for people who don’t eat meat is National Potato and Squash Day…because that’s usually all that I can eat from a Thanksgiving Day Table. Get creative! Yes, the turkey is a Thanksgiving Day center piece, but there’s so many fun flavors in fall to utilize in vegetable, bean, and whole grain dishes! For goodness sake PUMPKIN SPICE PEOPLE. PUMPKIN. SPICE.
- Talk about activities that make you happy. Talk about the great yoga class you took last weekend. Let people know you reconnected with an old friend. Mention the new watercolor you’re painting. Show everyone the cute puppy video you watched that morning. There are a million and one things in this world that do not involve food, and sometimes people need to be reminded of that.
- Enjoy the day. Every year we have the choice to either let the holidays stress us out or inspire us. Let’s dedicate this year to being inspired by the love in our families (whether that includes people we’re related to or not), our health and vitality, and the fact that there are nationally recognized days centered around bringing people together. For one day a year the entirety of America takes a moment to sit down with others and talk about what they’re thankful for. I wish we could practice this every day, but there’s simply not enough time. So bask in the glory that is this day of thanks.
Happy Holidays! May this be the beginning of a rejuvenating holiday season.