‘Tis the season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-laaaaaaaa…
If, like me, you are a sensitive eater, ‘tis the season to be…
-surrounded by food, stimulating food, processed food, everywhere you look
-picking at food, all the time (it’s on the counter top… in the fridge… by the kettle… at the checkout… in your stocking…)
-drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (alcohol behaves just like sugar in the body)
-eating larger meals than normal
This is OK. Up to a point.
This is not OK when the food you’re consuming hurts your body, bringing you headaches, bloating, irritability, and craving for more.
This is not OK when the frequency of eating, and the type of food consumed, lead to insulin resistance and fat storage, both pre-cursors of type II diabetes.
This is not OK when you no longer feel in control of what you eat, how much you eat, and how often you eat.
This is not OK when your consumption of Christmas food and drink damages your sense of peace and wellbeing.
Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of peace and joy, a time to celebrate, a time of deep connection and togetherness. How can we do that, when we feel unsettled by the ubiquitous availability and vast quantities of stimulating food, alongside the abundant opportunities to eat, eat, eat?
We do this, first and foremost, by recognising that this environment that we currently inhabit is unsupportive to us, as sensitive eaters. We are gentle and kind with ourselves, and we ask the question –
How could I make my food environment safer for me, this Christmas?
A safe environment means places where I can take time and space to make conscious choices about what I put in my body. An example…
I LOVE mince pies. They are my absolute favourite Christmas food. They are everywhere… I am thinking about them… I want one… I want more than one… I’m thinking about them… Mince pie, mince pie, yum yum, yum yum…
I ask myself – can I have a mince pie? Of course I can. I can have anything I want. I do not restrict, I am free to choose to eat anything I want, in any quantity I want.
I buy some mince pies. I spend time with them. Smelling, feeling, sensing. This is a shop-bought one, and it looks, smells and feels a bit dead. The pastry is stodgy, and tastes a bit old. I read the ingredients on the packet. They are:
Apricot filling (glucose-fructose syrup, apricot puree, sugar, pectins, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium citrates)
Candied mixed peel (orange peel, glucose-fructose syrup, lemon peel, sugar, citric acid, sulphur dioxide)
Barley malt extract
Acetic acid, citric acid
Iron, niacin, thiamine
More glucose syrup (it’s written again!)
Whole milk powder
I notice that the whole thing dissolves in my mouth almost instantly, like it was never there.
I notice that the second after eating one, I want another one.
I notice that these empty shells of dead sugar and fat will never satisfy any part of me, and my tongue, which is zinging from the super sweet mixture, is wanting more.
I remember the lovingly prepared mince pies my Nanny made, and these are just not it.
And I feel the space of my craving, unfulfilled, unfinished, unsatisfied. And I let it be as it is, I am safe here, I have a choice, I am not at the mercy of my impulsive primitive brain anymore. I accept no shame for eating, or not eating, this stimulating food. I say to my Nanny, wherever she abides these days, “These are really crap compared to yours!”
And so I invite you, sensitive eater, to bring conscious awareness to your Christmas eating. There will be a ton of processed food. You may choose to eat some. But if you do, make it a safe, exploratory experience, one that gives you the option to discard the food if it’s not bringing you peace or joy this Christmas.
You might want to ask yourself, if you choose to discard the Christmas crack, what food and drink would bring me peace and joy instead? What kind of food environment would support me, as a sensitive eater? What conversations would need to be had, with friends, families and colleagues, for me to be able to create such an environment? Good luck, real food warriors, conscious eaters, I salute you! Let me know how you are coping with Christmas this year.