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Aware and Vibrant Living!!
We are now about a week away from the big feast known as Thanksgiving. Are you hosting? Do you feel overwhelmed – even if you are not hosting? I can help!
My first post in this four-part series was all about making it work with your dietary restrictions. This part 2 is all about breathing and basking in the holiday season. About slowing down, asking for the help you need, bringing together the people you love, and enjoying these times of food and gathering together.
Of course, after the big feast we rush into Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (I am a small business owner and would appreciate your business) and then less than 4 weeks until Christmas, and Hanukah begins at sundown on Christmas Eve this year, too. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate you may be feeling the pressure building. This is the best time to take a step back, and truly slow down and try to look at the holidays from a different angle. Breathe, breathe, breathe, and take care of yourself.
If you are the host of one or both of these meals, perhaps you could make a list of what things others can bring (you know they’ll be asking), or simply ask everyone to bring whatever side dish means “Thanksgiving” to them. Ask them what they are bringing (keep a list, just in case everyone decides to bring green bean casserole.) You can assign simple things like rolls (even if you don’t eat rolls), appetizers, vegetables, or whatever someone wants to bring. Some of the best Thanksgiving meals I have had are when people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, etc. get together for a meal it is exciting, fun, and different. It is truly wonderful to try other people’s favorites, and enjoy and celebrate the abundance of this holiday.
Most importantly, I believe it is important to remember that Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, family and friends, the gathering of your loved ones to eat, nourish themselves, fill their souls, and spirits. Allow it all to happen just the way it does, breathe, and enjoy a grateful, joyous day.
Because of the diversity in my family, we respect everyone’s religious beliefs, but don’t necessarily participate in the same prayers, or blessings; we simply go around the table and each person tells everyone what they are thankful for – for Thanksgiving. I am always touched and humbled by the responses when you ask the simple question of “What are you thankful for?” Embrace each person’s viewpoint and allow everyone to contribute – then get busy eating.
When you bring people together amazing things happen. When you bring people together with food even more amazing happens. Sit down, give thanks, and enjoy!! Embrace everything this holiday means to you and enjoy, relax into it. Eat, share, enjoy!!
I’d love to hear what Thanksgiving means to you. Comment below. What are you thankful for?
Can you believe it’s November already?!?! Wow!!
Are you ready for the holidays? I know I am NOT, yet!!
However, I would like to start this holiday season out with an incredible offer along with a 4-part Blog series to help you enjoy a healthy, happy holiday season.
First, the offer: Beginning now until December 31, 2016, when you sign up for my 6-month Program I will throw in as a BONUS my Grocery Shopping Tour. This is a $275 value, and also makes it easier for you to transition to a healthier lifestyle. Each time you shop for food is a critical time to assess what you are buying, and, therefore, eating. The tour is easiest done if you are local to me from approximately Lynnwood to the north, and Olympia to the south, I will include the eastside of Seattle approximately the same span, and will travel to the peninsula or one of our beautiful islands from Whidbey Island to Fox Island. If you are not local, you can still get the BONUS, but I will put together an online tour with shopping lists, printed material and lots of expert advice to take with you on your next shopping trip.
As you may know by now, some of my greatest breakthroughs have been around awareness. My business is named Aware and Vibrant Living for this very reason. So much of trying to figure out what works for you, or me, or Aunt Sally or your partner, is about awareness. When we detox or use an elimination diet to assess our dietary issues, we can then use that knowledge and awareness to guide us in our decision making every day, especially during the holidays when the temptations are plenty.
Family traditions are perhaps the hardest thing to overcome. Like you, I have family traditions, many of which are around food, whether it be holiday goodies, including cookies, candies, or my famous pumpkin cheesecake. These all translate to me now as sugar, sugar and more sugar with some gluten thrown in. I have learned to curtail these “traditions” the last few years, and I have been greatly rewarded by not gaining that holiday weight, by feeling great all through the holidays, and by caring for me, I truly have a much happier holiday season.
I no longer spend one of my very busy weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas toiling away in the kitchen making 10 versions of sugar. I miss this time with my mom and sister, but I don’t miss the sugar. I know how sugar makes me feel, and I try not to torture myself even though this is admittedly my biggest challenge. In addition to the elimination of sugar, I enjoy a gluten-free and minimal dairy holiday season. I don’t expect others to go out of their way for me, so I always come prepared. I bring dishes that I can eat to family dinners, and eat whatever else I can that they offer.
Some years we eat out, too, and those years I usually try to help pick the restaurant, or call the restaurant ahead of time and ask them what they might be able to do for me. Most nice restaurants are pretty good about trying to accommodate you, and appreciate the advance notice that you are coming with strict dietary restrictions. Sometimes I can go with a vegetarian option, or with a completely non-traditional holiday meal off the restaurant’s regular menu. Asking for what you need is the best bet when eating out.
Part of the battle is the mindset, and this is something that takes time. It has taken me years to get to where I am and I am certainly not perfect. Remember not to be hard on yourself, especially when just starting on a journey of healthier eating. Gently remind yourself of how this food makes you feel, and if you just have to have that piece of fudge, special cookie, or the pecan pie, then eat it, enjoy it, and move on.
I have found that over time it gets easier to resist the never-ending parade of chocolates, donuts, cookies, breads, cupcakes, etc. that I pass through in the kitchen at work. I simply remember how it makes me feel when I eat that donut or piece of cake, and I can easily resist the gluten products. I used to LOVE baked goods of all kinds, but once I realized though that these are the things making me so miserable in a multitude of ways, it became quite easy to resist them.
Sometimes you have to make different choices for yourself. Henry Ford once said:
Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving. How about finding a pastured, locally raised Turkey or duck this year, making homemade cornbread or sausage stuffing, rather than traditional bread stuffing? Try making vegetables without all the additives for the holidays, i.e., green beans instead of green bean casserole, broccoli and cauliflower, steamed; rather than with cheese sauce. Skip the bread altogether and make gravy with organic corn starch, rather than flour. For dessert, try making a gluten-free Apple Crisp or Pumpkin Cheesecake with a gluten-free graham cracker crust. Watch for some of these recipes to post on my website in the next week or so.
Sometimes you just have to pass. Whether it’s the passed hors d’oeuvre at a party, a buffet or a menu at a restaurant or your Aunt’s house, hopefully you can find something to eat, even if you are limited in your selections. Make your decisions, and every once in a while “Just Do It” – no bashing, or abusing yourself about, just eat it, enjoy it, and carry on.
Remember that planning ahead is critical to making it through the holiday meals. If you are hosting, you have it made, as you can make what you want and need. Others can bring what they want or what their traditions bring to the table. It can be a fun, diverse, experimental meal. Don’t fret if it doesn’t all turn out as you would have liked, or if all the dishes don’t “go together.” Just enjoy it and let it be. Be thankful for all the food before you, in all its glory!!
If you are going to someone else’s house, offer to bring a dish or two that you can eat, and share with others. Discuss your needs with your host, and offer to bring dishes that work for you so the host can just worry about their original plan.