Enjoying Soul Food During the Holidays from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

This Christmas I’m feeding my soul.

Most of the time I make decisions about what to eat based on health (and time and convenience and preference – let’s be real). I make these decisions because I really believe depending on what you eat, food can either be medicine or poison. I think about this a lot and I try to live by that rule.

But there are times that food is as much medicine for my soul as it is for my body. The holidays is one of those times.

A few weeks ago I wrote a few tips about how to survive the holidays. My hope, though, is that you can go beyond surviving and start living.

Now, when I say soul food, I don’t mean junk food. Those are two different (and commonly confused) ways of eating. I have a philosophy that there are basically two reasons why we should eat: 1) to fuel our bodies and 2) to nourish our souls.

Unfortunately, many of us eat without accomplishing either one of those goals. This comes in forms as innocuous as “mindless” eating (munching on Skittles while watching a movie) or as destructive as an unhealthy coping mechanism (“I had a rough day at work so I’m going to eat this giant bowl of ice cream.”)

It’s impossible to do this perfectly, but when you find a way to intentionally enjoy “soul food” I promise you’ll be so much happier. Here are some of the ways I plan to fuel my soul this Christmas. I hope you can, too.

Eat with Family

Or friends. Or co-workers. Or strangers at the neighborhood community meal.

The experience of food is meant to be shared. You don’t have to talk about food, cook food, or really think about food that much to understand this principle.

The idea is that it is better to eat a bowl of ramen noodles than it is to have a four-course dinner – as long as that ramen bowl is shared with friends around a campfire telling stories about the good ol’ days.

Friendsgiving 2019 in our home, my favorite holiday of the year!

Friendsgiving 2019 in our home, my favorite holiday of the year!

Eat Crazy Stuff

I can’t wait to eat my friend’s homemade caramel corn. It’s the most amazing homemade caramel corn ever. And this is something that I never, ever eat during most of the year – I mean, it’s sugar on butter on carbs – what could be worse for my body? At Christmastime, though, this is my ultimate soul food.

Here’s where it’s important to separate junk food from soul food.

Junk food is anything that isn’t healthy for your body, but differs from soul food because it also fails to nourish your soul. So eat crazy-bad-for-your-body food once in a while. But when you do, pay attention to it long enough for it to nourish your soul.

Hot Chocolate with Friends

Hot Chocolate with Friends

Eat Good Stuff

I know I’m going out to eat a lot in this next week.  I usually limit going out to eat to only once per week, so going out multiple times per day is pretty rare.

I also know that going out so often will lend itself to a diet in the next week that is significantly lower in fiber, fruits, and veggies (see: lentils) than I’m used to. So you know what my plan is? At least a couple of times I’m going to find the healthiest thing on the menu and pick that.

Why? Because I’m worth it.

I really don’t think my body deserves to be punished for going out to eat and enjoying the holidays, so I’m going to choose healthy food when I can. And – I guess this is how you can tell I’m a dietitian – an arugula salad tossed with roasted beets, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette for dinner is my idea of the perfect balance to a heavy lunch.

Follow it with a glass of Cabernet? Yes, please! Hello, Heaven.

May you always enjoy your food as much as our kiddo enjoying his airport ice cream cone.

May you always enjoy your food as much as our kiddo enjoying his airport ice cream cone.

Experience your Food

I don’t even care if I sound crazy-hipster-nutritionist-foodie. I really mean this. Because I love food.

We live in a land of plenty – sometimes to a fault. This is a world in which we can have fresh strawberries in December and Alaskan salmon in the Midwest. It’s normal (rather than special) to have oranges for Christmas.

I am thankful for this. I am thankful for the abundance. But while I am thankful, I am often saddened. For in our abundance, we forget our blessings.

How amazing, how lucky am I to eat my arugula salad in the winter. To have a family to eat out with. To have more than a bowl of rice and a bowl of beans. To have more than an MRE in the field. I am so lucky to not only have enough calories to eat, but also to have so many choices about what I put into my body.

I hope you have time to ponder these thoughts this Christmas. I hope that you cherish your family, cherish your friends, and cherish your sugar cookies.

May you have a very blessed and happy holiday season.

With love, from Peas and Hoppiness.


Want to re-discover how to love food again? Check out my Nutrition Counseling options!



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