Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eating and the Holidays

November is upon us and unless you haven't been to Target, Home Depot, or Lowes, you've noticed that the Christmas is not far away.  This season can be the best time of the year to enjoy friends, family, and fun.  Those are three things that we just can't have enough of.  But there is one more part of the holiday season that can be a bit too plentiful...  food.

In our culture, and perhaps many others, we have this strange correlation between celebration and food. We celebrate through food. Have a birthday? Bake a cake.  Go to a ballgame?  Have a hot dog and a beer.  You want to thank someone?  Give them food.  You invite friends to dinner? Make them food.  A friend invites you to dinner?  Bring them food.  Start a job?  Go to lunch.  Quit a job?  Go to lunch!

Don’t get me wrong, those traditions are great. I love a hot dog at the baseball game, a slice of cake for a kid’s birthday, and a some ham at Christmas. The trouble is when we link greater celebration with more and more food. Somehow, we get into a mindset that you can't celebrate something without food being involved.  Someone at a Christmas party doesn't want seconds?  They must not be having fun!  Stuff another cookie in their mouth.  That'll show them how to have a good time!  The real celebration should come through the people we are with.

Even a brief study of healthy living will teach you that one meal isn't going to end your hopes of being active, fit, and healthy.  Heck, some of the most stringent diet plans have a weekly cheat meal.  Weekly!  So, that one meal on Thanksgiving evening isn't a big deal.  What is a big deal is the constant eating -- unhealthy eating at that -- that we seem to take as the norm between now and New Years Day.  Why do we do it?  To celebrate!

Why do people bring cookies to the office?  To celebrate!  Cupcakes to the gym?  (Yes, I've seen it.)  To celebrate!  And if you don't eat it -- oh boy, you must not be in the spirit!

Now, stop for a second.  Does this make any sense?  At all?  No, of course not.  It's truly ridiculous to think that celebration directly relates to how much food is involved.  Holiday celebrations are more meaningful because you get more time and more laughs with family -- not because you had that third helping.  You want even more crazy?  Purposely avoiding food on Thanksgiving morning so you can "make more room" for a huge turkey dinner.  That's absurd!

So, as we work our way through another holiday season, I ask you to keep an eye out for those times when we accept this strange correlation between eating and celebrating.  Realize that sharing a relaxing laugh with coworkers without a brownie is different than having that brownie at your desk while working.  Try to make this season about the few extra minutes with coworkers and not about the extra sweets at every turn.

And remember...  those sweets will stick with you for quite some time if you have too much.

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