The other day, I was surprised to see a Twitter friend advising total avoidance of favorite holiday treats during parties and celebrations. If nothing else, it just does not feel like the right approach or the one most likely to result in long-term success. Perhaps, I am being too sentimental and not logical enough on the subject; I’ll let you be the judge.
The comfort of Christmas traditions come from the memories that surround them, not just the ones being created but also memories from years past. Memories can be stored in any of our senses, including taste. Have you ever heard a song from your childhood and experienced a rush of memories from that period in your life? There is one song that will always remind me of the summer before my freshman year of high school. Does a certain smell remind you of a specific person? My grandmother had a lilac bush large enough for us to play inside of it; the scent of lilac always brings her to mind.
The decorations, the carols, the people, and even the food are all important parts of connecting to and creating holiday memories. For that reason, I will respectfully disagree with my friend, at least on Christmas. Of all times, you are most likely to feel denied and even sad if you do not partake in certain special foods.
Some of your normal holiday fare may be able to be excluded if it does not have any personal meaning or attachment for you. Shrimp cocktail is a Christmas tradition in my family, but I have never eaten seafood so it has never mattered to me. You may be able to alter some of the family recipes to make them more acceptable in your meal plan. Everyone enjoyed the cranberry sauce I made from all fresh ingredients for Thanksgiving, even though it was not what we normally have at family gatherings.
However, Grandma is not as likely to change the recipe she has used for years. If it is a special food for you, you can still partake in appropriate portions. You do not have to eat even an entire piece to enjoy your favorite pie. Savor and focus on what you are eating. If my grandmother has made baklava I will have some, but I will not have seconds or thirds. Instead I will drink more water while I eat and coffee when I have had enough.
I can distract myself playing with the children running around the house or engaging the teens in conversation. If you allow yourself to sample, you will not be distracted by the forbidden treats in the kitchen, you can relax, focus on loved ones, and fully enjoy your holiday moments.
December 23rd, 2009