There is something important about food and shared meals that we should be reminded of during the holidays.
Yes, food provides us with the sustenance to survive and there are basic human needs that are met through what we eat. But there is also something more, something that shouldn’t be overlooked, which are all the ways that food connects us to the human experience of being alive and sharing our lives with others.
Food has the power to bring people together in the kitchen and around the table. It keeps traditions alive, evokes and creates treasured memories and honors our loved ones who have come before us and passed down the tastes and smells of our familiy’s history.
So where does it all go wrong for many of us? How is it that we can find ourselves on the other end of the holidays in a downward spiral feeling like we need a vacation from the vacation, like we need to overhaul our lives and like we hit rock bottom mentally and physically?
Food (or any other “drug” for that matter) is NOT the remedy for: boredom, anxiety, worry, loneliness, stress, anger, frustration, exhaustion... the list goes on. Food can only mask the void temporarily. Those feelings and issues will keep showing up until you do the work.
The feeling of unworthiness leads us right into the trap of attaching feelings of guilt onto food.
We deprive ourselves of foods in the moment that we label “bad” which creates a void that we end up filling anyways in shame, isolation and in quantities that supersede what would have consumed had we just allowed ourselves to enjoy the gift of that ONE shared meal.
We rob ourselves of the connection, community and love that is fundamentally built into these experiences. And instead of feeling nourished in mind, body and spirit, we feel depleted, drained and disgusted.
SO WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
First bring awareness and own it. Do not take yourself out of this beautiful time of year by falling into the same traps that have left you depleted in years past. What behaviors, habits and patterns do you fall into? What triggers you? Once you identify these things, you can better control what you let into your environment and you will be able to catch yourself more quickly when you are out of alignment so you can course correct.
Second bring presence and a create a plan. Decide and commit to how you are going to take care of yourself so that you can thrive and soak up every opportunity for connection and love this holiday season. It’s as simple as arming yourself with consistent practices to keep you grounded, present and aware of what’s going on in your mind and body.
Make a conscious decision now on what events and meals you want to be all in for over the holidays. This means choosing the ones where you will CONSCIOUSLY LOOSEN THE REIGNS. It's not a free pass to stuff your face till your sick, but rather giving yourself permission to eat what you want within reason, being grateful for that special meal and leaving it there.
Not every meal is a special one, you know which ones really mean something to you and when you practice consciously identifying them YOU ARE GIVING YOURSELF THE POWER BACK. The power to commit to taking care of your mind (through PD), your body (through exercise and nutrition) and your spirit (through community and connection) consistently which will allow you to show up with presence and an abundance of love and gratitude for yourself and the people that you are sharing these special moments with.
If you have struggled during the holidays I hope these practices help to create a path to peace, pressence and nourishment!
Give yourself this gift. You are worth it.