Eating & Gathering; Holiday Survival Guide

With the holidays fast approaching I thought this would be relevant. In the Western culture it seems that “eating and gathering” go hand and hand; whenever one is invited to someone’s house they typically will ask “what should I bring?” Often get-togethers, parties, or celebrations are centered around food. Typically we place the food in the centre of the room, or in a designated space to be served later. We place small snack foods on coffee tables, or scattered on tables around the party, so that it is easily accessible. Although it appears that there are no rules when it comes to how much party food is consumed there rules for how it is consumed.  When it is not your house you wait to be offered the food and follow the system that has been established. The kind of food that is served also depends on the type of party and who is throwing the party; therefore, food can be contextual. Typically, all concepts of healthy eating leap out the window during a celebration, and we are offered large portions of candy, chocolate, and other fine sugary treats.

Food for whatever reason brings people together, in the book Flights of Fancy written by Cindy Clark Dell  she says: “note that pizza, ham, lasagna, or lamb can convey a message comparable to the one conveyed by turkey: that the act of eating unifies the family, since the family eats from a jointly shared dish” (p. 98). She suggests that eating “unifies” the family as they all come together and eat from the same dish and they share the same goal.
Dell also discusses the “excess of Christmas” and says: “the excess of Christmas, eating, drinking, party going, and large scale giving of material gifts, has the paradoxical effect of causing festival participants (adults at least) to be glad to restore order and return to ordinary life afterwards. ‘There is an intensity to Christmas that cannot be sustained, as one mother explained” (p. 49). Clark suggests that Christmas is such an elevated experience that it cannot be maintained all year round, and due to its heightened nature they are happy to go back to their regular lives.
Here are some tips to help keep you on track over the holiday season (adapted from Canadian Living Dec 2008 issue)

Plan for the days in between celebrating you should plan to eat healthy meals and exercise.
Eat a light snack before parties like yogurt, fruit, crackers, low fat cheese it will help you keep your cool and not over indulge.
Treat your self once in a while; if you deprive yourself you’ll end up eating the entire pie rather than just a piece.
Eat with your eyes; before eating weigh your options; if there are veggies go for those first they’ll fill you up with zero consequences.
Avoid the foods you can have anytime there’s not point to eat chips because you can have those anytime. Save the cals for the good stuff.
Position your self away from the food; if you are standing next to it you’ll eat mindlessly and end up eating more than you intended.
Hold your drink in your dominant hand; makes it more awkward to grab food.
Eat slowly; enjoy your meal and the presentation of it
Beware of beverages, they actually pack a lot more calories then you think
Eggnog = 363
5oz Wine = 100
12oz Beer = 175
1.5oz scotch = 100 cal
Opt for soda water – cal free J
Most importantly don’t be hard on yourself; you should enjoy yourself it is the holidays for crying out loud. I love food, I talk about all the time and sometimes even dream about it, but looking good means feeling good on the inside. Be good to your body, and as long as you are smart about it you should be able to coast into the New Year with your little black dress unharmed.


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