The holidays are a delicious and magical time of year. It is a time to reflect on the year that passed and look forward to the year that is coming. It is a time to, quite literally, break bread with your loved ones. What does your family eat during the holidays? Mole? Pozole? For instance, in my family, we eat a traditional dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, Honey Baked Ham and pie on Thanksgiving. For Christmas, we eat tamales and menudo with bolillos and champurado. For New Year’s, we usually eat panes con pollo, and wash them down with ponche.
These foods are traditional and deeply rooted in the generations that came before us, traditions and history. Whenever I eat a tamal on Christmas, I recall that the recipe comes from my Nana, and her mother before her. When I bite into a tamal during the holidays, it is as though my Nanas are with me.
My mouth is watering as I write this. However, even with (or perhaps because of) this yummy goodness in mind, the holidays may be a stress trigger for some of us. No, I am not talking about annoying relatives (more on them later). I am referring to those of us who want to stay on track during the holidays. Perhaps the traditional foods seem like a source of temptation. I am here to tell you CHB fam— we have every right to enjoy the holidays and our roots this year! The key is to enjoy this time of year with balance in mind.
Read on for tips on how to stay on track, and enjoy the holidays. Though this is being written just in time for Thanksgiving, these tips come in handy for any type of congregating where the foods may be more indulgent than you would typically prefer to consume.
As mentioned earlier, balance is the key here.
Tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays:
Bring a side of veggies
Consider yourself the health ambassador to your family (which hopefully are not stubborn or close minded to healthy options). Bring a side of steamed veggies, a side of roasted veggies and a fresh salad. There is something there for every palette. Plus, you can ensure you fill up on vegetables before indulging on other options.
Bring a (semi) healthified version of a popular dish
Instead of canned cranberry sauce, you can make your own at home with organic cranberries and oranges. Or, you can try making your own pie! Ingredients like flour, sugar, grass fed butter, and pumpkin puree are ingredients you can actually pronounce. Though it is still a pie, it is definitely a step above something store bought with preservatives, or ingredients we cannot pronounce. Just the other day, I saw a store bought pie that contained soybean oil. Sounds much less appetizing to me than grass fed butter as an ingredient.
Don’t have time to get your cook on? Perhaps some cut fruit and dark chocolate may help you get that sweet tooth this holiday season.
Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy dinner, “guilt” free
Eat a breakfast full of your necessary macronutrients. Eat a lunch chock full of greens. Drink lots of water. If you do all this before the big holiday dinner, you can rest assured that you have some nutrients in your body. Cooking all day and need something quick and healthy? Chug some Get Yo Greens Mix to flood your body with greens.
Get a workout in that morning, before the festivities start.
Do something good for your body, and later on, enjoy reasonable portions of your favorite traditional foods amongst your loved ones.
Remember What Matters Most
Remember, it’s about the memories. The holidays are about the experiences with loved ones. It is about making intergenerational memories. It is about honoring the traditions that define us. Perhaps this holiday is the holiday your suegra finally includes you in the tamal making festivities, so that when you are the matriarch of the legacy she and you will share, you will be the one to pass down the recipes. Deep, right? It is as though these experiences we share transcend time— the future, present and past are all together at once as we share experiences with our closest loved ones. This time of year is about honoring our ancestors and loved ones. Finding the balance with food is important for our health so that we can be around for as long as possible to have these experiences, yes. However, finding the balance is just a part of the whole mosaic that is our traditions this time of year.
So we’ve mastered balance. Now, how do we combat opposition?
So now that that is established, let’s move on. So say you got your work out in, you’re hydrated, you brought some greens to the party. Perhaps you even mediated or prayed before the party so that you can be grounded to deal with the relatives you love but who are also annoying. Let’s be real! You’re popping with all your goals to stay healthy, aligned and balanced. Now, how do you deal with relatives who are excessively comunicativos ? (Para no decir mitoteros.) How do we deal with relatives who pressure you to “break your diet?” Have you heard this type of opposition before? “Its just once a year we ate these foods, why are you only eating one tamal?”
Some relatives may even feel despreciados if their dishes are refused. After all, in our culture, love is sometimes shown through food. How many grandmothers and mothers and tias and madrinas tell us we look like we are too thin and try to feed us to show us love. Some of my friends laugh because even when they feel fluffy they are told they look too thin…then they are (kinda) force fed. On the other hand, this has been my personal experience: some family members feel a lack of control in their own health decisions so they feel the need to control the decisions of others. It sucks. And if you are going through this, I am sorry.
Most of the time, any pressure to eat in a way that does not align with your long term health goals can be rooted somewhere in the middle of the spectrum: relatives only just trying to show love through food, or some relatives be hatin’!
How to deal with nosy relatives this holiday season
Instead of framing your eating choices around weight, focus on how you feel. For instance, a comment like, when I eat more greens and smaller portions of the other things, I just feel so much more energized! gets the message across. Another example could be: I am trying to set a good example for my children. How can I expect them to eat greens if I don’t? Anyways, the holidays are right at the peak of the cold and flu season! If all else fails, tell those pushy relatives you’re going your best to stay on your “A Game” to enjoy spending time with everyone.
Strength in numbers:
Maybe someone else in your family has goals similar to yours. This person can be your ally! For instance, I go into reunions with my husband and we make sure we start off with greens to offset our appetite to make sure that we really enjoy the traditional foods without over indulging.
If all else fails, try this tried and true response to offset pushy relatives who want you to “break your diet” for one reason or another: “Al ratito.” Al ratito may not come, and your (slightly pushy) relative may not even notice.
Tying it all together
Health is wealth. Making choices that are good for your body can help you to maintain your health for the long term. If you can live a healthy life, then that can give you the freedom to spend many holiday seasons con la familia. Finding balance is a great frame of mind to maintain as we enter this holiday season. There is enough to stress about, after all. And, if you happen to get off track, there is no need to feel guilty. Enjoy it and remember that tomorrow is a new day. The Compton Detox will be there to help you feel back on track the next day. Be good to your body, enjoy the flavors, spend time with loved ones, and make happy memories that can last a lifetime.
How do you celebrate the holidays in a balanced way? We’d love to read in da comments. Hasta próxima. Happy holidays from everyone here at Compton Health Bar!!