As an Ayurvedic practitioner and teacher, I am accustomed to the panic that the holiday season brings up in my clients and students. With all the parties full of late-night dinners, lots of sweets, and other foods not typically in an Ayurvedic kitchen, many people become concerned about how they will be able to maintain the progress they have made in their health.
Remaining true to yourself during this time of year doesn’t mean that you have to turn down the invitations and spend the holiday season in the company of your kitchari pot. But spending time with loved ones shouldn’t require you to put your Ayurveda practice on a shelf. Instead, view the holidays as a time to create a stronger relationship with food that will continue to pay off all year long.
Maintaining Balance During Holiday Season
Eating is one of the most important things we do in life to maintain physical and mental health. It is an action that is meant to bring spiritual connection with nature, and when we do it with those we love, this connection grows even deeper. The next time you receive an invitation to attend a holiday party, welcome the opportunity to share good company and your approach to feeling and looking well.
The key to enjoying good health throughout the holidays is not to fear the parties and the food, but to plan for them. Before you accept an invitation to attend a party, figure out how you’ll eat there. If you avoid this step, you’ll either go hungry or will fill your plate with food that you normally wouldn’t eat and then feel guilty or ill.
Tips for Honoring Your True Self
Bring a dish to share that reflects your lifestyle. Ask your host what the menu will be and offer to bring something that fills the gaps. If it’s a potluck, bring something you know you and everyone else will love to eat. People will taste your food and want to know more about the delicious practice of Ayurveda.
Build a plate your way. It’s easier than you think to eat in a balanced way. Look to the side dishes, such as hummus, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and rice, and you’ll enjoy a complete and tasty meal.
Eat before you go to a party. Just because food is being served doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Go to enjoy the company. Show up fully satiated by a meal you cooked at home and you won’t be tempted to indulge. If the party has a set meal time, ask if it’s okay to show up after and help out with the dishes.
Host it yourself! Invite friends and family over for an Ayurvedic meal cooked with love. You could even offer the gift of a cooking lesson.
Be respectful to yourself in the choices you make and be grateful for the loved ones who invited you into their home. If you choose not to honor yourself and indulge, forgive yourself. It is much worse to eat poorly and beat yourself up about it than to simply accept what happened and move on. Eat kitchari for a day to allow your agni, or digestive fire, to rekindle, and use the experience to see where you can release attachments to food and enjoy the freedom that follows.
My next article is a recipe for a meal of spiced rice with cashews and mixed vegetables—a great, easy dish to bring to any gathering.