Does this sound familiar?
“But I prepared it just for you”
“Come on, are you going to let me drink alone?”
“Your grandmother use to eat this daily (pork lard, fried chicken, butter biscuits, etc.) and lived until she was 98 years old”
“You didn’t eat enough. Take a few more bites and you can be done” à This actually translates to “Don’t listen to your body, listen to me instead”
We all know very well how our family and friends (although with the best intentions) can be quite persistent and persuasive during the holidays in terms of food and alcohol. This is the season of emotional blackmail expressed through food. But take a step back and think how hard you’ve worked to get where you are, so why give in now?
Our family and friends can be great triggers to fall back into unhealthy habits. Be aware of this and take initiative.
- Lead by example, bring a healthy dish without making the host feel you are being disrespectful. Tell them you would like to help and ask what kind of dish they need and prepare a healthy version.
- If you are a host, give your guests ideas of foods that are gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free. To simplify, offer to prepare the main course and others can bring something like salads, veggie-based dishes and fruits.
- It’s okay to say no, thanks. Thank them and continue the conversation in a positive way. Mostly, they believe they are helping you enjoy the holidays. Politely saying no and moving forward helps them realize that you are happy with your decision.
- Keep a full glass with what appears to be an alcoholic beverage. That way they will stop the constant pouring and will help reduce your simple sugar and alcohol consumption. For example, sparkling water with a splash of cranberry or lemon juice.
- For appetizers, always start with a salad (lemon or vinegar as dressing) or something simple veggie based. Avoid the temptation to start with heavy appetizers, remember it’s just the beginning.
- At a buffet, go for veggies (half your plate) and protein. If your plate looks full, people will not be able to add more for you.
- You know your family and friends well, so be prepared with a good answer. Remember when you speak from the heart, people are more inclined to listen. If you want them to respect your decisions, you also need to respect theirs and do not judge them for not following your healthier lifestyle.
- Two positives before a short explanation. For example, when they say “I did it for you”. You can say something like: I know you spent a lot of time preparing me this dish for me, thank you, I know it comes from love and good intentions. But you know, I’m full, but since you did it for me, I’m going to give you a little taste (a couple of teaspoons). Try this strategy only once, otherwise they’ll keep insisting.
- Blame your doctor or your dietitian! Use us as intermediaries, explain that for X health reasons you should eat only a few things and the consequences of not following through.
- Relax, smile and let your inner peace radiate your presence. When people see that you are happy with your decisions, they will not be so insistent. After all, enjoying food with family and friends is a big part of the Holidays and most importantly, DO NOT feel guilty the next day and punish yourself by starving and going to the gym for 2 or more hours. Just move forward and get back to your regular healthy eating and exercise plan.