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When Stress Comes a Knocking

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

Well, the holiday season is here, and yes, I say Holiday because there are over 29 holidays between now and the first week of January depending on if you are Jewish, Christian or anyone else. As many of you read this, the hustle and bustle of preparing for Thanksgiving will be occurring, apparent from the crowds in the local grocery store I visited. Friends, family, and coworkers will be bringing all kinds of food, much of which may not be healthy picks to your desk or door. Now is the time of year for gastronomic indulgence as set in history by the Old English Yule festivities. But is that necessary? Do we need to eat until we pop because it is Thanksgiving and the launch of the Christmas season? Folks the yearly famine is in the past. Of course not, and if we savor the foods eating smaller portions we intern will pass through the season without gaining that extra 20 lbs that each year gets harder to lose.

So, for those of us with food sensitivities, allergies or health that requires careful monitoring of sugars the question is what to do? Do you eat what is before you knowing it will hurt your health or do you refuse, sounding like a whiner or risk hurting someone’s feelings? None of these is a good option in my book. Our family especially can be the most difficult, after all, grandma spent a lot of time making that pumpkin pie; Mom made your favorite dish – well at least it was when you were ten….. Food is very much a part of every family gathering, and when we are stressing over the food laid out on the table before us, or what to make for that member of the group who has different food needs we sometimes let our mood sour the occasion.

There are lots of foods that fill the need of the vegetarian, paleo, diabetic, gluten and sugar-free crowd, and this is your opportunity to revisit simple foods that are made with ease not fuss.

Remember YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH.

If your family or friends don’t understand your needs for Gluten Free, Paleo, or vegetarian, do not play the martyr over it, instead be proactive. In our household, my husband is highly sensitive to turkey, so this year since I have an elderly family member staying with us, the compromise will be a pork roast or roasted chicken with the works instead.

But I’m going to someplace else; I don’t want to be rude … Sometimes we will eat a small meal earlier, so my husband isn’t so hungry when we get to friends or families homes. By eating a healthy snack or small meal beforehand, he can take smaller portions, or select only those foods we know are ok.

Don’t be bashful about letting folks know you have food intolerance’s when they invite you – always start by accepting the invitation and follow up with;  I should let you know there are some foods we/I cannot eat. But I am looking forward to spending time with you, thank you for thinking of me.

I always offer to bring a dish or two; especially if the host isn’t accustomed to our dietary needs. Remember you don’t have to eat foods that are bad for you – sometimes accepting that piece of pie when grandma thrusts it into your hand – but never eating it because you get busy talking or listening works. There are thousands of recipes for holiday dishes that can be made gluten and sugar-free, vegetarian or paleo. Offer to share your favorites with those who are in your circle of family and friends, so they don’t have to seek out dishes or make unintended mistakes.

Don’t Stress over food – or risk your health by eating foods you know don’t work for you. Do spend time with those you enjoy, laugh and sing.

Happy Holiday Season filled with real food, laughter, and love.

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