Surviving the holidays on a diet


It is the holiday feast of the year. Candlelight danced over the sumptuous dishes, and the fireplace crackled with anticipation. Simmering hams, turkeys, cakes, pies and an array of overflowing dishes graced the ebony table.

The guests arrived and the clinking of China began. It was deemed to be the best dinner by all except one – the guest with dietary restrictions.

As vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, gluten-free, Kosher, Lactose-intolerant and other dieters know, the holidays can be tricky. 

Along with the pressure of gifts, embarrassing relatives and the arduous task of untangling the holiday lights, avoiding the foods that you normally do not eat is especially difficult.

It seems as though the universe is out to get you. Your neighbor stops by with a plate of cookies – do they contain dairy?

When you roll out of bed at 1 p.m., your mother greets you with a plate of bacon. Wrong again, mom. 

What is a poor, self-respecting dieter to do? Wear a sweater that outlines your dietary needs? Tape a sign to your reindeer horns that says “Does Not Eat Meat?” 

First things first: is your diet a lifestyle choice or is it a necessity? If you have a choice rather than a dangerous allergy, it is time to reassess the label. Consider whether being a strict dieter will make you happy or miserable during the holiday season. 

If avoiding gluten, nuts or meat is essential to your survival or general wellbeing, by all means resist. I have a hunch that your friends and family don’t fancy spending Christmas in the hospital. It is simply uncivilized to inflict that kind of pain on others at this time of year.

Speaking of etiquette, upon your triumphant homecoming after completing the first semester, remember to be courteous when your family inevitably forgets that you don’t eat certain foods. Santa may be watching and I am fairly certain that biting off your brother’s head in a fit of rage would land you atop the naughty list.

My personal motto for this time of year is to dig in. Although I am a pescetarian, on holidays I forgo the diet and eat what I want. Life is too short to deny myself the pleasure of roast beef on Christmas. 

While it may lose you points at the Vegan Station in the Marché, relaxing your diet over the holidays is healthy. You get to relish the treats you ordinarily abstain from, and it is easier for whomever cooks the meal. Eat with no regrets, I say.

However you celebrate the holidays, do so with a smile. Nothing is worse than being the person in the corner of the room, glaring while munching on flax and tofu bits. Do yourself and others a favor by not grumbling about how difficult it is to be you.

December is meant to be a time of peace, contentment and gratitude. So, eat what you please and be merry!