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Survival Tips For The Holidays

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Here we are…It's the season for…

eating foods that are "not your food"
over-consuming food unnoticed, while socializing
drinking alcohol when you don't normally or drinking more than you do usually

…any of these sound familiar?

Thanksgiving is here and, with that, we are entering the holiday season that can throw us off balance quicker than you can blink…ok, maybe not, but within a couple of hours you can surely reach a state of "I'm not feeling so well".
It is challenging for most of us, not only the ones who are practicing a different lifestyle and are followers of a diet that many have not even heard of.  For some, it's the season for falling off the wagon and completely abandoning their healthy eating habits while it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. For others, it may be an extremely stressful time, working till the night before the guests are coming over or getting on the plane to visit family on the other side of the country, trying to do all the shopping, decorating the home, preparing more meals in a few hours than one would do over a week sometimes, while the kids and pets still need your attention, not to mention our self that we tend to forget about while focusing on how to please everyone else…..Whew, that might have been the longest sentence ever typed! :)

In some cases, it is harder if you are following a "other than mainstream" lifestyle and in some cases that's what makes it easier. I've been on both sides and in my case, it's easier if I'm sticking with mine. SO what can you do??? Here are some tips that might help, especially if you are the only one who is living "in the raw".

Tip #1 - Do not panic!
I remember how stressful it was for my mom to try to get everything done in time. She was working full-time, did all the shopping (without a car), cooked all the meals, started baking 3 weeks ahead of time to fill up the cookie jars with holiday treats, cleaned, etc. The list goes on.
I couldn't relate because I was a child. I was sad to see her stressed and it also kind of ruined the holidays for me. But the one thing that was on her side is that she did make an effort to take care of herself. If you feel like it's all on you; you are the one who has to do everything, take care of yourself first. Whether it means meditating or doing some yoga before the crazy preparations marathon, or taking a relaxing bath, or just taking time off, period, so your life doesn't become madness all of a sudden. DO it. And if you can get help, even better. My mom always distributed chores (which I didn't necessarily like but, looking back, I'm glad I could help her during these extra challenging times) and, lucky for her, I always asked how I can help her in the kitchen. I loved the kitchen already as a little girl and it was so much fun for me to hang around :)
So TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF first. That is the ONLY way you can take care of others.

Tip #2 - Plan ahead
Make a to-do-list at least in your head and try to do whatever you can ahead of time. The fewer chores you have left on the busiest day when you are rushing, the less stressed you will be.

Tip #3 - Cater to yourself first
As in most cases, it is difficult when you are the only person in your household who is an advocate of raw foods or maybe even living a 100% raw lifestyle. If you are alone it's easy to attend to your needs but during the holidays you might be going somewhere where nobody has even heard of your "diet". And if you are the only raw member of a family then you might be preparing cooked, traditional foods for others as well...

If you are the host of a party or get-together…
Ok, so everyone is coming to your house. You must have invited people you care for and love to be around. And they must be coming over to spend the holidays with you because they feel the same way.
If you are alone, how about asking them for help? Or maybe even make this a potluck so everyone can contribute and you're not the one trying to make it all happen by yourself. If you're not alone, you've got help, right? Everyone, your significant other and / or children are probably ready to help, and if not, distribute chores (like my mom did :) )! This is not the time to play superhero and then feel the effects later and regret having pushed yourself too hard.
You are home, in your own kitchen, with all your tools. Yay, you're half-way there to sticking with your ways. If nobody else really cares for raw food (yet) then figure out at least one meal, one snack, and one dessert that you will make for yourself. Make your favorite ones if you know you might be tempted to indulge and reach for the rest of what is served. At least fill up on "your food" first and see how you feel about having to eat a serving of that other stuff you never would on a regular day. If you know you will be busy preparing food for your guests all day then try to make your own ahead of time.

If you are invited to someone else's home (within driving distance)…
PLAN AHEAD; have I mentioned that before? This is especially important if it's hard for you to stick with your good habits and you find yourself wanting to eat what the rest of the people around you are having. Maybe it is really hard to not take a piece of that freshly-baked pecan pie or bread pudding...
Chances are, you knew ahead of time you were not going to spend the holidays at home but if it's last minute, you can always grab whatever you have in your pantry. You can go simple and fill a bag with fruits, crackers, leftover dip and some cucumber and celery, don't forget that jar of nut butter that's half-full, and whatever else you can find. Ok, you're set. (BTW: You're probably better off if you never go to some place where the host is not understanding your lifestyle and you find yourself worrying about offending him/her by bringing your own food.) But even more ideal, prepare your favorites. Make an effort and prepare at least a meal that you absolutely love, a snack that is your favorite to reach for, and a dessert that you can't ever wait to devour. That is the bare minimum to get you through if you feel challenged at events where you are surrounded with aromas that bring back memories and foods that you think you can't resist. If you have enough of your favorite dishes with you, you have a much greater chance at sticking with them. Ideally, you may prepare more than what you will bring with you just for yourself. If you have the time and the means, make a dessert that you know everyone will love. This will give you a chance to share and introduce people to a way of eating that they might not be familiar with but will much appreciate once they do learn about. And wait till you have one after the other coming up to you asking you for the recipe! Happens all the time :)

Here's the marble "cheesecake" I've made just now...

If you're flying somewhere to be with family and loved ones…
Well, you know what that means. You are limited as far as what you can get on the plane and might be limited as far as what you can buy in the area where you are going.
Obviously, everything you take with you will be x-rayed but most raw foodies will rather eat x-rayed raw superfoods, etc, than not being able to eat what they want. Pack whatever you may need while traveling, such as easy-to-eat fruits (oranges and bananas travel very well and they have their own "packaging") and veggies, maybe your favorite powders, chocolate, crackers, snack bars, nuts and seeds. Take plenty with you because you never know when your flight is delayed, etc, you might end up spending a much longer time at airports than your itinerary says you will.
If you are preparing some food where you are going, then it's best to bring at least the hard-to-find ingredients with you because you never know what's available. The first thing I do before I travel is spend a good chunk of time Google searching for health food stores and / or raw or organic restaurants. Look up ahead of time whether there is a health food store in the vicinity where you know you'll be able to stock up on produce and raw snacks for your stay out of town. As long as you have tons of snacks around you'll be less likely to reach for those food items that you will regret having eaten later.

Tip#4 - Don't beat yourself up!
Ok, you "failed" at it…at least, that's how you feel.
Most important step for success: Love yourself even if you "failed" at sticking with it. It's the holidays.  This is when we eat more than we should and sometimes things we wish we hadn't. Don't beat yourself up over it! If that's what happened, oh well. You'll be back on your juice or smoothie or plate of fruit or whatever it is that puts you right back on track the next morning. Note to myself too: Worrying about what you have done and / or you shouldn't have done is probably causing more damage than an entire dish of green bean casserole topped with a whole pumpkin pie in your stomach.
It is NOT A BIG DEAL. Maybe even thank yourself for not being so strict. Your flexibility might have allowed you to have more fun and spend a more memorable time with your loved ones.

Happy Holiday Season, Everyone!