I've done 3 Christmas's now as a 'freaky eater' so I reckon I have the authority to write this. It's really important to remember that surviving isn’t just about what you put in your mouth. Here’s 8 tips on how to survive this coming month without resorting to physical violence on a distant relative.
We love our endorphins (especially at Christmas), and the best way to keep these pumping through the body is sadly not through necking booze or drugs, it’s through exercise. My favourite exercise, dancing, ticks all the boxes, not only are you listening to music, letting it enter your cells, but you are having fun with friends (or solo) and getting those muscles moving. Also, when those who class you as a 'freaky eater' see you cutting a rug on the dance floor they'll forget you didn't indulge in that mini-burger. If you have to stick to traditional exercise, give yourself little rewards for every time you partake, we all love a star chart, “yes I can have that vodka and soda with berries (no sugar thanks) at the office Christmas party if I do my Vinyasa flow today.” If it’s too hard fitting it in, walk to work, walk up and down the stairs at work, sit on a fit ball at your desk, have a snowball fight, do squats in the lift (weirdo). Not only does this mean that those reading this in the Northern Hemisphere will keep the old SADD at bay, but those in the Southern Hemisphere are going to feel happy in togs for the month of January and thus get in all the Vitamin D required to keep immunity, and mood, high. If you maintain your exercise regime right up until Noel, give yourself the next week off. Allow yourself a ‘deload’ week, where your muscles have a welcome change to relax and repair themselves. NO guilt, enjoy every second.
These are people who can’t bear the fact that you aren’t eating ‘normal’ food. They fall into 3 categories:
Enabler A/ They think you are a twat for joining the ‘Paleo Fad’ and want you to know how much of a twat they think you are.
Enabler B/ Because food is the cultural language of choice during the holidays, when you eat their food they see it as emotional reassurance that you care about them. They want you to like/love them, via the medium of their Caramel Tarte/Turkey Stuffing/Garlic Bread and don’t understand that you would like them more if they didn’t keep sneaking those ‘treats’ onto your plate with a conspiratory wink.
Enabler C/They wish they had the will-power to do what you are doing. They want quit drinking a bottle of wine a night but can’t find the energy to break the cycle (understandable, because life is stressful right?) They want to feel better about themselves, they see you looking smoking hot and clear eyed and sparkling and the way they deal with their emotions is to pull you down to their level by ‘proving’ you wrong with your food choices and giving you grief.
CHANGE THE SUBJECT:
‘Tell me about your job/mother/cat/dog/gastric bypass/prolapse’ is the easiest way to deal with enablers. When they start asking questions about your dietary choices, don’t explain yourself, change the subject and ask them a question about themselves. People love talking about themselves and you’ll address A,B & C all in one by doing this. Whatever you do though, don’t make the question about food. Anything but food. And make sure you listen to the response. Practice your belly breathing while you listen, unless the afore mentioned A, B & C person has bad booze breath, and then I give you full permission to mouth breathe.
Enabler A/ Will re-think the fact you are a twat because you aren’t talking about your ‘diet’.
Enabler B/ Will know you love them because you are genuinely interested in them enough to ask a question.
Enabler C/ Will hopefully lose the feeling of resentment because you not only look good but your inside is running clean, kind and non-judgmental too.
Lastly on the subject of Enablers, don’t preach. If someone won’t give up until you’ve explained why you aren’t eating something, say ‘I’ve realised it doesn’t agree with me’ or ‘I don't feel well when I eat gluten’. Definitely don't launch into a detailed description of the damage that white bread roll is doing on their gut lining at the very moment the missile is entering their gob.
FAKE AN ALLERGY:
I have a very good friend who has faked a peanut allergy for years, just because he doesn’t like them and he’s sick of people saying ‘what?? why??’ when he says ‘no thanks I don’t like nuts’. This is a highly controversial subject but I think it’s a winner way out when you know you are pushing shit up hill and it means you will immediately get someone off your back. People respect a physical disability far more than someones attempt to stay healthy. It’s a shame we can’t wear a bandage around our bellies .
It’s not so bad for those down under as you are coming into summer and thus it’s not your time of year to spend weeks horizontal with the flu. But for those of us currently nearer Santa it’s the perfect time for a flu to hit. You’ve been working hard all year, and now you stop, of course you’re going to get sick. Not only have you been sharing snot off those shopping trolley handles, packing yourselves into indoor places with heating like malls & shopping centres, but you aren’t getting as much Vitamin D as you get in summer. Fortunately increasing your water intake, cutting out complex carbs, increasing your fresh veggies and fat is the perfect way to keep those bugs at bay. Sleep is too, so if you are out on a bender, make sure you have a nana nap the next day.
This is the key to surviving. In the lead up to christmas double your recipes, and fill that freezer with good stuff. Pate, energy balls, truffles, banana cake, nut and seed bread, nut christmas cake, casseroles, have them all on the ready to take with you to particularly ‘unfriendly’ places or pull out if you are caught out late and don't have time to cook.
If you are hosting Christmas make an abundance of roast veggies and some particularly fancy salads to go with your ham/turkey/prawns/oysters and no-one will even notice.
Eat before you go out so you aren’t tempted by those vol-au-vents, and have a green smoothie ready in the fridge to neck when you get home to help alkalise your gut and stop the hangover.
CUT YOURSELF SLACK:
Right I’m not giving you permission to eat every candy cane on the tree or demolish the stuffing out of the Turkeys ass, but seriously, if you are dying on the inside because you ‘aren’t allowed’ Champagne, let yourself have it. If your mother in law insists on making a mind-blowingly tasty christmas cake that certainly isn’t DF, GF, V, FFGFDV (I made that one up), for the sake of your relationship, eat it. And beating yourself up afterwards is highly unproductive. Enjoy it, accept you’ve ‘slipped’ off eating what makes you feel good, and then just have another serving of greens and a digestive enzyme so you can help your body process it through ok. Some people like to ‘plan’ a cheat day, so a whole day where you can eat what you want (or what you think you want), but I don’t recommend this as you will feel awful for days after.
BREATHE AND LAUGH:
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the key to surviving both food and emotional stress over Christmas is to breathe and laugh your way through it. If you haven’t yet read my article on breathing, click to it now, read it on the loo, in bed, whenever, but just make sure you do as this will keep those stress hormones low and the digestion working well to process everything you put in. Well maybe not everything, but most things. Laughter has the same effect, as do hugs. So turn that frown upside down, enjoy those hurdles that leap up to meet you, smile as you listen to boring Aunts and Uncles, and just take a moment to feel gratitude for your life. And the fact that you only see these people once a year.