The Rules of Holiday Eating (and how to break them!)

Have you ever noticed the more you work on food sensitivities, the more rules you have about what you eat?  Eating stops being something to enjoy and turns into something to manage and figure out.  Quite frankly, it becomes a full-time job.  

And then along come the holidays.  A wonderfully annoying and frustrating season if you're surviving on food rules and restrictions.  Frustrating because absolutely every food you could possibly want (or want to avoid) is readily available during this time of year.  

Add in the fact that the menu at holiday tables is determined by long-standing tradition and the different foods carry so many memories and emotions, it becomes harder than your average Monday to stick to your rules and routines.  

Most of us fall into one of two categories at the holiday table - either we throw the rules out the window and say "It's Christmas!" and eat anything and everything, or we manage to follow the rules and not eat the "bad foods" but then we feel disappointed and slighted by the whole event.  

Don't know about you, but either one of those situations pushes me in the wrong direction with my food restrictions - either I willingly give in to eating anything without limit, or I eat what I "shouldn't" out of spite and frustration.  

There has to be a better way to get through holiday feasting, right?!

Here's the thought for today: What if you actually gave yourself permission to have one meaningful (and hopefully yummy) holiday treat, even if it is a "forbidden food"?  

We all do emotional and stress eating during the holidays.  And while I'm not advocating for emotional eating, there is that connection we have to family, friends and memories through the foods we eat.  During the holidays, most of us are in search of that sentimental connection - we want to feel the way we felt when we were younger, or we wish we could sit at the table with all of the loved ones who are now gone.  

Let's be intentional with our food choices so that what we eat, even if it breaks a rule, serves our hearts and spirits during this highly emotional season.  

There is more to a holiday meal than just the food on the table.  And maybe giving yourself some grace to eat the one thing that will help you feel connected again to the spirit of the season would be of greater service to you than sticking to the rules and restrictions 100%.  Only you can decide…

But let's explore!  If you did give yourself permission to eat that one thing, what would that super special splurge be?  Is there a special food item that would keep you from feeling disconnected and let down by this holiday?  A special holiday cookie?  A bite of grandma's stuffing?  Maybe a yeast role with real butter?  

There is always the concern that if you eat that trigger food once then you'll completely slide out of your safe food space and keep eating it every day. That is why I want you to really be intentional.  This isn't just having a cookie or a yeast roll.  It's connecting to your holiday traditions.  We don't typically eat these holiday foods every day of the year; they're significant as part of our holiday traditions.  We want to honor that significance!  Think about the food you really want for this holiday and then consider the different questions below in the Sixty-second Self-care Tip.

And now here is the hard reality check!  You know your body better than anyone else.  Period.  End of discussion.  You know what you can splurge on and what is going to really turn your world upside down.  Honor your truth!  I will always say, defer to what you believe will serve you and your health the best. 

But just remember, even in the middle of healing your body, there is some space for grace and emotional health, too.  

Sixty-second Self-care Tip…

Hey there!  So, you're pondering your special holiday food splurge?  Remember - this is all about being intentional so that even if your body complains a bit, your heart and spirit are well-served.  

With that in mind, what is the one food splurge that you believe would serve you the best?  Now consider these questions to help you really decide:

  • Why is it important to you? 
  • What is the connection to that food that is so important or what does it represent for you?  
  • Is there another way to make that connection?  
  • Would a trigger-food-free version serve you just as well?  
  • And finally, is that food so important to you that it makes the potential repercussions of eating it acceptable in this situation?  

Hey - and if you're really embracing this idea, keep in mind some things you can do to help minimize your reactions to a small amount of your trigger foods:

  • Don't overdo the sugar, it increases inflammation!
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Stick to your food rules and restrictions up to the big holiday meal or splurge so your body isn't reacting to 67 things all at once!  (This is where being intentional is really important!)
  • Get good rest to help manage that stress.
  • And be sure to find the non-food ways to connect to your holiday traditions and memories!

What is your super special holiday splurge food?  Leave me a comment below - I would love to know what makes your holiday super special!!


holidays, intention, resilience, rules, traditions

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