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  • by Jaclyn Foster

The Skinny on Navigating Holiday Gatherings

The holidays are an exciting time for gathering with family and friends to celebrate. It can be a lot of fun to catch up around the centerpiece of a yummy meal but at times this can become stressful when we find ourselves surrounded by unhealthy options that contradict our recent efforts. The question becomes, how do I eat healthy and continue working towards my goals while in the midst of sugary treats, high-fat options, and well-intentioned family and friends?

Here are a few tips you can try to keep you heathy through the holidays:

Offer to bring a dish: If you are going to a potluck style gathering or an event where it allows, put together a healthy dish you enjoy and bring it along. This is a safe bet because even if you are surrounded by less healthy options, you can always fill your plate with the dish you brought. Another fun benefit of sharing healthy choices with your friends and family is that you get to introduce them to something new that they might like and want to include in their menu.

Share your favorite or check in advance: When the group you are getting together with is choosing a restaurant, be one of the first to share your favorite healthy options. If your group has already chosen a location, look up the menu online ahead of time to see what you might be able to work with. Many restaurants are willing to work with you to adapt a meal to your dietary preferences (low or no-oil, non-dairy, plant based, etc.). Call ahead to be extra sure if you’d like!

Practice a different conversation: If you have found new success in your health since last getting together with friends and family, know that you might be met with some curiosity and occasionally resistance. There are a few ways you can share how well you are doing without making others defensive. .

  • “I’m trying something new, so far it’s working for me.” This helps to keep the focus on you and what you are doing, and takes the pressure off of them and any comparison they might want to make with themselves.

  • Say, “I’m noticing (insert benefits – weight loss, lower blood pressure, etc.), so I’m going to stay with it for a bit.” It’s hard to argue with benefits of making a change and invites a more welcome and supportive conversation.

  • Redirect with questions and thank them for sharing: If you find yourself in a conversation where someone is heavily disagreeing with your choice due to their own beliefs or choices, instead of trying to make a case for your actions, you can ask them: Where did you learn about this information? Let them share, and simply respond with, “Thank you for sharing.” Using this communication allows the other person to feel heard, gives you an opportunity to acknowledge it and then you have a resource if you feel it’s something you’d want to look into.

These tips have worked for me for years, and with a little practice you’ll be easily maintaining any and all of your changes throughout the Holiday Season and carrying them into the New Year.


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