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It’s amazing what you notice when you become aware of the cultural messages about food we take for granted. Most of the year, we are expected to control our hunger and eat only healthy foods (with an occasional treat thrown in if we’ve been good). During the holiday season, though, many people change their behavior around food. Otherwise naughty foods take center stage, and people seem almost obligated to eat them.Tree Chocolate

Before a parent meeting at my sons’ school last month, the principal welcomed us to donuts and coffee. As I poured a cup of coffee, another mom stood pondering the pink box of pastries. After what appeared to be a brief battle between her desire and her diet conscience, she said aloud, “I should have one. It’s the holidays.”

Another note: on a post-Christmas morning, I listened to local DJ talking about buying Christmas candy for half price. He reasoned that he should buy and eat a lot of candy because there were still a few more days left in the year. New Year’s Day would then be the time to stop because that’s when we have to “take care of things.”

Do your eating rules change over the holidays? Did you let your guard drop this year? Do you even notice whether or not you have a guard up? It isn’t always easy to tell.

But sometimes you can tell by whether or not you feel virtuous or guilty. Normally, those adjectives should describe something meaningful. Like you feel virtuous about standing up to a bully. Or you feel guilty about forgetting to let your dog back into the house.

More often than not, though, we have a whole litany of dichotomous categories when it comes to food and eating.

  • Good/Bad
  • Allowed/Forbidden
  • Green Light Food/Red Light Food
  • Anytime Food (like celery)/ Sometimes Food
  • Healthy/Junk
  • Clean/ ?? I don’t know what goes here. Maybe anything that’s not organic kale.

You get the picture.

Woman Balancing on RopeWe spend so much time walking the tightrope of how we think we should eat that it’s no wonder the holidays can turn into a bender. We leap right off that tightrope into a pit of fudge and divinity. We may not even be aware that food rules have been constructed within and around us. We talk about eating certain foods because it’s allowed this time of year. We talk about how it will all end and we’ll whip our food conscience back into shape with the New Year.

It all feels so normal. (You can go ahead and say that all creepy-like.)

Having a hard time figuring out your food rules and how to live beautifully without them? Here’s where to find out how we can work together.





Thanks for the images:
Woman Balancing on Rope courtesy of Vlado at
Chocolate Tree courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at