The Holidays, Beauty, Sanity – and You

I did an interview recently with the people at IIN about the ever-fraught subject of holiday eating. And I wanted you to see it, have it, and know that it’s possible to be kind to yourself in this upcoming period of family and food. It’s possible to delight in the food on your plate — why not? — and to be tender to yourself about what you need, when, and why. To act on your own behalf no matter who is sitting at the table with you.

These are the questions. These are the answers I gave.

Whatever you do, wherever you do, whoever you are with, give yourself back to yourself over and over.

Question: How can we manage being triggered around holiday foods, stressful family members, holiday gatherings?

It’s true that holidays are particularly challenging in the food arena. Cookies abound. Gingerbread houses beckon to be eaten (well, just a corner). So many people celebrate using food as their focus. But what I would say about this is not different than what is always true in stressful situations where food is concerned: Be clear about what you want. Be clear about what truly nourishes you. It’s not a treat if you suffer and have a stomach ache for three days after you’ve eaten it.

Ask this question: What is a treat? Really. Is it feeling alive, luminous, peaceful or is it feeling stuffed and spacey?

Do some writing about this. Use this as a first sentence: The way to be kind to myself this holiday season is… And then complete the sentence ten or twenty times. Listen to yourself. Be tender with yourself.

On the practical level:

Know what you are walking into before you go to a party or family gathering.

Wear pockets so that you have something to do with your hands other than eat.

Eat to take the edge off your hunger before you go so that you can look at the food with a clear and true mind.

Pick three food items from the buffet or sit-down dinner. Eat them sitting down.

Alternate between talking and being aware of the food in your mouth. Taste what you have. Allow yourself the pleasure of delicious food. Receive what is there to receive.

Take in the good, the joy.

Don’t deprive yourself of what could truly (I mean, truly) satisfy you.

If you find yourself eating mindlessly, excuse yourself. Go the restroom. Remember that life exists beyond the table. It’s easy to forget when you are in the middle of it all.

Walk outside. Look at the stars.

Remind yourself of the beauty that is not on your plate! And how utterly fortunate you are to be alive to see it.