The holidays are upon us.  Halloween.  Costumes.  CHOCOLATE!  Pumpkins.  PIE!  Thanksgiving.  TURKEY!  MASHED POTATOES!  Family gatherings.  Decorations.  Christmas.  COOKIES.  Presents.  More family.  MORE FOOD!!  New Year’s Eve.  ALCOHOL!  “Bright paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!”
I have always been a sucker for the holidays.  I love every minute of it.  It all begins in October (my favorite month) and the fun continues for the next three months.  If you get in my car the day after Thanksgiving, you will most likely hear Christmas tunes.  I can rattle off family tradition after family tradition that makes me smile from ear to ear.  And many of my favorite holiday things involve food.
HEADACHES.  Fatigue.  Joint Pain.  Inflammation.  NAUSEA.  Sugar highs/sugar lows.  Cravings for more carbs.  The infamous “food comma.”  These are a few of the “unfavorable” symptoms that accompany the consumption of my favorite holiday treats.  As an individual with food intolerance, the holidays can be tough.  I am constantly surrounded by everything I love, yet everything my body “hates.”  Some people say I am lucky that certain foods make me sick; others feel sorry for me because I can’t enjoy the holiday favorites.  The reality is that most of the foods I am sensitive to are the foods that many us would benefit from cutting back on, both during and after the holidays: dairy products, grains, processed foods and sugars.
Many people go into the holidays concerned about the excessive amount of food they will be surrounded with.  While my reaction to certain foods may be more extreme than the average, the consequences of over-eating and over-indulging on holiday favorites is something many of us can related to.  Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or have food intolerances, we’re all in the same boat.
So, is there a holiday favorite that you’re willing to give up this year?  Most clients will say, “but it’s tradition”, “I can’t give that up”, or “I can’t not serve that dish.”  We are really good at blaming the food or the tradition for causing our problems.  It’s the bread that makes me feel sick.  It’s the traditional deserts served that adds on the extra five pounds.  It’s NOT our fault, right!?  This thinking gives food the control, and just leaves us feeling mad and annoyed.  There was a point when I did get upset that my favorite breads, cookies, deserts, etc. would make me feel sick; just as I’m sure many of you get mad or upset at the foods that add on those extra pounds.  But every time I got mad or upset and restricted myself from these foods, I just wanted them more, and yes, I felt sorry for myself.   The same often happens for individuals that use food restrictions in an effort to lose or manage weight.  Restricting your food intake and saying things like “I can’t have that” or “I’m not allowed to eat that” usually leaves a person feeling deprived and will most likely lead to a vicious cycle of binging, feeling guilty, and restricting.
This year, don’t give up anything for the holidays.  Allow yourself to eat, drink, and be merry, but also know that you are in charge, you are responsible for how you feel, and for any additional pounds.  I now allow myself to eat whatever I want around the holidays BUT before I eat it, I stop and think about how I want to feel for the rest of the day, or even the next couple days.  It’s my choice.  I know I can have a bite of pumpkin pie and not be affected, but if I have a whole slice, forget about it.  Sometimes I go for it and I do have consequences, but I’m accountable, I’m in charge, and I dictate how I’m going to feel.  I am in control, not the food.  Don’t restrict yourself, enjoy a bite of your favorites here and there, and then move on to the more important aspects of the holidays…
FAMILY.  Friends.  Helping those in need.  Watching the excitement of my nieces and nephews.  Christmas music.  Parties and Gatherings.  Decorating (while listening to Christmas music of course☺).  Did I mention Family?  Giving “bright paper packages tied up in string”…these are a few of my favorites things that are more enjoyable and important than any traditional holiday food and are some of the real reasons I truly love the holidays.