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By Julie W.

Holidays, the time of year most people will cave in and falter from our chosen way of eating whether for health or weight loss.

The statistics tell us the "average" person will gain between 5-13 pounds during "the holidays", but why?

Read these definitions:

Holiday: a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically: a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event, a period of relaxation.

Celebration: to observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, or take part in a festival.

Gathering: come or bring together into a group, mass, or unit.

Festivity: a periodic season or program of cultural events or entertainment

Nowhere in these definitions of what the holidays are said to be, does it talk about FOOD. No where does it say to throw your way of eating to the wind, stuff yourself, eat every carb-laden food you can get your hands on, and gorge to the state of misery. Nowhere does it say that one is expected to gain 5-13 pounds.

When did we turn the "reason for the season" into a reason for abusing FOOD? More so, categorizing it as forbidden food and making it something we crave and look forward to?

Even though, this year, I'll be enjoying my Thanksgiving feast via an IV, turkey bouillon and sugar free jello, typically we have all the holidays at my home.

No, having "the family" is not always an event I look forward to. (shhhhhhh, I didn't say that) It never fails, someone always arrives, it seems, with an attitude, an old grudge, or a whine and dine plan. *grin* Some years the holiday gatherings are dreaded events, not anticipated with excitement. Will Cousin Bill bring up that Aunt Mary still owes him for the car he sold her in 1984? Will Aunt Shirley go ballistic and storm off when her brothers tease her that her football team stinks? Will anyone even show up because of recent family feuds? Is your family like this?

I get very sentimental during the holidays and always take very private, alone time to reflect on "the reason for the season". I spend a lot of time in quiet moments, alone with my thoughts of thankfulness for all the blessings in my life.

I love to go to church and sit in the balcony. I love to watch the community leave behind their cares and disagreements. To watch them come together in spiritual celebration. To see the families, the elderly, the people who are alone, come together as one family, unconditional in love. This is "my" holiday, not the traditional family meal gatherings, even though we do those too.

I prefer having holiday family gatherings "on my turf" for several reasons. I have control of the starting and ending time. I have control over the food.

We do holidays buffet style, everyone bringing various things. I always take care of "myself" and my nutritional needs first and foremost. I have PLENTY of low carb food available, meat and cheese trays, low carb dippers for appetizers; I serve turkey, ham and lavish low carb veggies, along with a couple of low carb desserts.

No one knows or even asks if this is "diet food" even knowing I am an avid low carber. I think they just assume I cheat at the holidays. MY contributions are ALWAYS gobbled up. Why?

Low carb food is RICH and satisfying to the palette! I have a list of favorites I make, which are requested by the non-low carbers. I allow myself to shift to "maintenance levels" on those days. I never feel "deprived".

I like to pre-plan entertainment to take the focus off of the tension that might come with my guests. I keep the kids entertained and they in turn entertain us. I rent the latest great movie. The football game is on for the fella's and the women play our yearly game of UNO.

When it's over, the carb-laden foods leave with those with which they came. Remaining are tons of wonderful special low carb food that will last a couple of days. This is when the rest of "my" holiday happens, relaxing and no cooking while the family does grab meals and doesn't expect me to cook.

If we were invited elsewhere the plan would be much the same. I would take what I could eat knowing full well the carbs would be well covered by others.

I would make sure I had a great filling breakfast and that I would not come home to an empty refrigerator. I've often made double batches and left one home while taking the other with me. I take home plates of leftovers I can eat.

You also have the advantage of being able to leave early if you so choose to. We've used this option a time or two. (smile)

Then when it's all over, it's time to reflect again and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You made it, it's over! What a great job you did not to cave to temptation or frustration! It wasn't "that hard" was it? Chuckle over the tense moments, rejoice in the wonderful ones and just be glad holidays don't happen any more frequently than they do!


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