When you’ve made the decision to commit to a healthy lifestyle, eating at the family dinner table may become a challenge. Especially when the holidays roll around, when so much of the food centers on sweet treats, pastries, and other goodies filled with the toxic, addictive sugar you’ve worked so hard to avoid.
Last year, you may have been swayed by “just one bite won’t hurt.” This year, if you’ve been solid for a while, you may be more determined not to fall off that wagon for even a crumb.
During Christmas time, it may be easy to ignore tables full of tempting treats. But then your mom hands you a bowl of your favorite Chex party mix and you recall that nobody else knows you’ve adopted a new food-based lifestyle.
They’re going to expect you to eat with them, and chow down on snacks while everybody watches Elf together.
Rather than wandering into an awkward situation unprepared, think about what you’re going to say to your family this Christmas. Be ready for their responses, and have a plan for what you’ll do if you feel tempted to dump your commitment to make others feel more comfortable.
Let people think you’re weird
It’s hard enough to say no to a third helping of mashed potatoes when your Grandma holds a full scoop over your plate. Saying no to everything on the Christmas dinner table is probably going to invite some backlash.
Who in their right mind would go on a diet over the holidays? Don’t normal people suspend their diet to stuff themselves full of yummy food for just a little while?
You can let people think you’re weird. In fact, show up to the gathering a little on the weird side to give people the impression you aren’t taking life all that seriously. Wear a funny hat or a Christmas suit decked out in bright, colorful Christmas icons to make it easier to break the ice.
Since food is the centerpiece of American family gatherings, rejecting any of the lovely grub that’s placed before you will drive people to ask questions. When you express your commitment to health, others in attendance who choose to feast might take it as a personal insult.
Someone could interpret your explanation as an indirect way of saying they’re unhealthy. But if you give them some visual cues that you’re not dead serious about everything, they’ll be more likely not to take your comments to heart.
Don’t offer specific explanations unless asked
It’s essential to be polite when you explain why you’re opting out of the traditional meal. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to say you’re passing on the glorious buffet your family spent the day cooking because it’s full of pesticides and toxic ingredients.
It might be better to tell everyone you’ve made a change in the way you eat based on your body’s specific requirements. If they don’t push you hard for nutritional specifics, you can avoid getting into that discussion.
Bring your own food with extra portions to share
Most people will regard it as weird when you bring your own food to Christmas dinner if the occasion is not a potluck, but when you bring enough for everyone to sample, they’re more likely to see you as thoughtful. Some might be stuck on traditional favorites like cranberry sauce and candied yams, but others might want to try something new.
If you’re on the ketogenic diet, for example, cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes. Mixed with heavy cream and topped with cheddar cheese, it’s a dish most people will enjoy.
You can also make pasta dishes with shirataki pasta, which has zero calories because it’s essentially all fiber. Make deviled eggs and separate some for yourself made with only mustard, no mayo.
Make your own unsweetened whipped cream, or stevia-sweetened whipped cream. If you can’t take your coffee without cream, bring a pint of heavy whipping cream. You may want to bring two pints. If someone breaks out the Kahlúa, they’ll be eyeing your heavy cream.
Understand why people want you to eat
The best advice for surviving the holidays comes from bloggers who have adopted a specific dietary lifestyle such as keto, paleo, or South Beach, and so on. These Paleo Holiday Survival Strategies, for example, offer sound advice for how to participate in the festivities without alienating yourself.
The guide explains that people who push food on you are attempting to gain your approval. They equate your acceptance of their food with your acceptance of them. You probably can’t convince them otherwise, so it’s best to avoid getting into specifics about nutrition with food pushers.
Don’t cheat if you didn’t plan on it
You don’t have to cheat just because everyone else does. If you’re going to violate your diet, plan on doing it ahead of time and be willing to accept the consequences.
For the best response, be simple in your explanations and focus on connecting with your family.