As the festive season approaches, you may be wondering how you can survive Christmas on a raw food diet – or even on a remotely healthy diet, for that matter.
For most people, Christmas means parties, roast dinners, chocolate, and lots of alcohol. Now that may be great for some – but what about YOU? Are you feeling anxious at the thought of all those social occasions, with well-meaning friends and family trying desperately to tempt you into eating your own bodyweight in turkey?
Christmas can be a tricky time if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat healthily and refrain from over-indulging – it almost makes you seem like a kind of alien in the midst of all the ‘eat drink and be merry’ brigade 😉
So here are some tips. And they work just as well for Thanksgiving, or indeed any social occasion that includes food!
11 ways to survive Christmas on a Raw Food Diet
1. Be prepared
When it comes to raw food, preparation (as in most areas of life) is key. Whether you’re eating out, or at a friend or relative’s house, bear in mind that there may not be anything very substantial for you to eat (unless you’re being taken out to an organic eco-friendly raw food restaurant – in which case, ooh you lucky thing! Can I come please?).
You see, most peoples’ idea of raw food is a bit of iceberg lettuce, some grated carrots, and maybe a few sliced tomatoes. They don’t know about chia seeds, or microgreens, or chlorella, or alfalfa sprouts, or hemp milk, or… do I have to go on? You get the picture. The majority of raw foods haven’t really made it into mainstream consciousness yet.
So it’s a good idea to fill up with something substantial beforehand, unless you want to be sitting in front of a boring 50 calorie salad, woefully eyeing up your friend’s lasagne.
Here are a couple of pre-party smoothie recipes for you:
Creamy energy blast
1 cup unhulled hemp seeds* (soaked overnight)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon chia seeds (soaked overnight, and sprouted a little if possible)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spices
1 tablespoon cacao
1 teaspoon carob
1 teaspoon maca
Add your preferred sweetener to taste (optional)
Place the hemp seeds and the water into the blender. Blend till smooth. Strain the mixture and add the milk back to the blender (the leftover hemp hulls can be thrown into the compost, or used in an exfoliating skin scrub to give you a healthy glow for the party). Add all other ingredients and blend till smooth.
*Or just use hulled hemp seeds for quickness; simply add them to the other ingredients and blend.
The creamy nutrition of the grounding hemp and chia milk combine perfectly with the uplifting cacao and maca to get you in a real party mood. Drink some before you go out and refrigerate the rest (it also freezes pretty well) – or take it with you in case you need a quick recharge.
If, like me, you’re a sensitive soul when it comes to the stimulating effects of cacao and you don’t necessarily want to be up all night, reduce the amount, or eliminate it completely.
Sweet, simple and quick: the good ol’ banana smoothie
If you’re more of a fruity raw foodie type, this is always a safe standby for a quick easy snack to energise you and get you in the mood for a party. A few ripe nana’s whizzed up in the blender with a little water will provide you with sweet, simple carbohydrates to keep you going all night. Add some spirulina for extra minerals and green power. You could even make extra and take some with you in a flask for emergencies.
2. Be patient
At Christmas, it’s often the case that you get together with people who haven’t seen you for quite a while. They may be surprised by the changes in you and get very curious about your novel choice of lifestyle. Often a barrage of questions may ensue about what you can and cannot eat.
They might say things that come across as unkind or critical – “What – you just eat rabbit food?! That’s just ridiculous – there’s no way I could do that!” etc etc.
Even if you get tired and feel that it all gets a little intrusive, just be patient, and answer their questions with respect. Remember that even if it seems people are poking fun at you, they probably don’t mean it (and even if they do – why should you care?).
One of my favourite books is ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the agreements is: ‘don’t take anything personally’, and it fits perfectly in this situation.
Funnily enough, often the people who make the biggest noise about how crazy they think you are, are the ones who may well try it themselves at some point in the future – you never know when you’re sowing a few seeds for change in peoples’ lives.
3. Bring a bottle
If you’re invited to a Christmas party and they ask you to bring a bottle – then who says it needs to be alcoholic? How about some awesome kombucha or water kefir ‘extra virgin cocktails’ to break the ice?
If nothing else they’re a real conversation starter (you’ll realise this once you’ve tried for the 10th time to explain what a kombucha scoby is!).
How about Cherry Almond Kefir for an amaretto feel:
1 litre coconut kefir (water kefir made with coconut water)
1 cup almond pulp
2 cups cherries
1 cup raisins
½ C water
3 drops vanilla stevia or ½ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 vanilla pod
Blend cherries and raisins with water. Add to kefir with almond pulp and vanilla. Leave at room temp for 1- 2 days. Strain and chill for 1 day in an airtight bottle (for added fizz).
4. Deflect attention
Find yourself running out of patience? Stuck talking to somebody who seems hell-bent on making fun of your way of eating? Ok, time for a different strategy.
Instead of going on the defensive and telling them every theory you ever heard about why rawfood is good for you, simply show some interest in THEM. Ask them about their diet, or their life.
You see, most people really enjoy talking about themselves. In today’s busy rush, no one ever seems to get the chance to talk and have somebody really listen to them. So when they DO get the chance, they relish it. Chances are your new buddy will forget any thought of attacking your lifestyle choice, and become engrossed in this rare opportunity to talk and be listened to.
And now’s the time to employ your secret weapon: KINDNESS. Listen attentively, and be completely supportive and encouraging about whatever it is they do/think/eat/believe etc. Now, I know this might be a challenge, especially if you’re vegetarian and they are stuffing their face with roast turkey, but just bear with it. It’s amazing how quickly this non-judgemental attitude will be reciprocated, and before you know it the atmosphere between you will be completely different.
It’s magic you know 😉
5. Don’t judge
You might not realise it, but people might feel that by being so virtuous in your dietary choices that means you’re somehow being judgemental about what THEY eat.
And perhaps you are 😉
It is common, especially during the first few years of being on a raw food diet, to get a bit evangelical. It’s completely understandable when you think about it – there you are, bursting with energy, healing everything that was ever wrong with your body, and you want to shout from the rooftops that everybody needs to try this diet, RIGHT NOW!!
It’s important to remember however, that just because this diet is right for you, it’s doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. And bending peoples’ ears about it at every given opportunity might be considered as some kind of judgement on the kind of lifestyle they currently lead – no matter how much you mean well.
Even if the person next to you is polishing off the remains of wee Jimmy’s selection box, don’t start lecturing about the disastrous effects of refined sugar on the body – because let’s face it, they’re probably well-aware of the dangers anyway.
Nobody likes being judged. There’s far too much judgement in society already, especially around food. If people perceive (whether rightly or wrongly) that you are criticising their dietary choices, then they are likely to go on the attack and say something about yours. And this is not a good recipe for a happy Christmas.
So just live and let live, and then everyone can relax and have fun.
6. Bag of tricks
If you’re eating Christmas dinner at somebody else’s house, come prepared with some lovely home-made food to augment your meal and make it more filling and tasty. It’s pretty easy to bring a small bottle of pre-prepared raw dressing in your bag, or a few dehydrated crackers. I often have an avocado stashed away somewhere for emergencies 😉
If you feel like getting everybody involved, you could bring along a big salad, or batch of raw pudding, for people to try. Even the hardest of junk-food eating hearts would be tempted by these raw chocolate treats!
7. Forget about the food
Just because the focal point for the occasion is eating – whether it’s in a restaurant or at somebody’s house – that doesn’t mean that you have to concentrate on food all night.
When you think about it, the real reason for ANY occasion, no matter what the backdrop, is for friends and family to get together and enjoy each others’ company.
It’s strange really isn’t it – this concept we have of how we should be enjoying ourselves at Christmas and other social occasions. We are continually taught by the media that ‘enjoyment = eating & drinking’. This conditioning is constantly reinforced in Christmas adverts such as this one.
But when you really think about it, it isn’t the case at all!
What does enjoyment really mean to you?
For me –
Enjoyment = laughing my head off at all the ridiculous things my boyfriend does to amuse me.
Enjoyment = having a good ol’ singalong with all my crazy and loveable family
Enjoyment = dancing around like a lunatic in the kitchen because my favourite song has just come on the radio
Enjoyment = playing Twister (but only when I win. I’m hugely competitive when it comes to Twister).
I could go on and on. There are literally millions of ways I can think of to enjoy myself – but you know what ? Not one of them includes: ‘Put food in mouth, open and close jaw a few times, swallow’
Do you see what they’ve done? Those sneaky marketing dudes have taken something we do WHILE we enjoy ourselves, and by employing a bit of crafty psychological manipulation they have fooled us into thinking that IT’S THE SAME THING!
And while the huge food manufacturing corporations laugh all the way to the bank, we’re left stuffing our faces with more and more food that our bodies simply can’t cope with, thinking ‘hey, we’re having fun’. Meanwhile diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease increase with alarming rapidity. Where’s the fun in that?
I’m actually more likely to eat LESS at Christmas, rather than more, as I don’t want to divert important energy away to digest a bunch of heavy food. I want to be able to use all my energy for dancing and singing! And I want to stay feeling light as a feather, so I win that all-important Twister contest!
What I DON’T want is to overfill myself so much with dense unhealthy food that I only have enough energy to slump in front of the TV and watch the Queen’s speech. Because let’s face it, that would be highly boring.
So forget about the food, and focus on other people. Immerse yourself in cool conversations. Talk to strangers as though you’ve known them all your life. Be the life and soul of the party. Stop worrying about eating and start grooving instead.
8. Wait till they ask
A good rule of thumb is this: only talk about raw food benefits if people specifically ask you. Preaching away to the uninterested is something that may get you a reputation as a bit of a bore, but if you have somebody who seems genuinely curious, then by all means, share your knowledge and experience of the raw food diet. After all, it IS a pretty fascinating subject, isn’t it? (Or maybe I’m biased?!)
9. Don’t fight about it
You may be lucky enough to encounter that ‘helpful’ person who insists on informing you that you’re not getting enough *insert nutrient here* – despite knowing hardly anything about your diet.
No matter how much you are provoked, try to avoid getting into arguments about whether raw food is good/ bad. It’s really not worth wasting your energy on it.
Remember that there are so many differing opinions about nutrition that nobody really knows what ‘the perfect diet’ is – including you – so just let people spout their opinion, and don’t get involved. After all, they can’t fight about it on their own, can they?
Just smile and change the subject, it’s boring anyway.
Of course, if you enjoy a good debate, then by all means get stuck in!
10. Humour is a powerful weapon
The most difficult of situations can end up being pretty funny, when you look back at them. So why not fast forward and find the fun straightaway? Make it your mission to uncover the absurdity in the situation – I guarantee you, as long as you’re on Planet Earth, it’s always there somewhere! Don’t take yourself, or your diet, too seriously – after all, it’s just food, right?
Cheat, if you must. Saves a lot of hassle 😉
Lisa Murphy has followed a rawfood diet since 2003. She is also a counsellor, hypnotherapist and coach who specialises in healthy eating, weight loss and anxiety. For more details of Lisa's therapies and courses please visit www.CherryTherapies.com