Holiday pleasures: the anti-guilt trip!

Why do we do it? We have this tendency over the holidays to put ourselves on a LONG nonstop guilt trip, like a first class ticket to Hong Kong and back, on the most expensive airline you can imagine. We splurge and purge AND beat ourselves up over it. I have a better idea: find a way that works for you to relax and enjoy life! If you have a brownie, enjoy it! And so you don’t massively overdo, and truly feel awful, plan ahead.

If you’re throwing the party, do what my friend Julie does and anchor your table with soups! Julie puts one on either end of her buffet, with lovely 5-ounce glass mugs, and peppers the rest of the table with different morsels (not mountains!) of yum. Hot smoked salmon. Serious mouthfuls of baked goods (she’s a fabulous baker). Beautiful cheeses. She replenishes as needed, rather than start with overwhelming masses of food. I watched how her guests interacted with all the tempting offerings this year, and noticed people kept filling their cups up with soup. The conversation flowed happily, and no one felt compelled to say, OMG, I’m going to pay for this! Julie’s timing is flawless too, from 3-5 on Sunday afternoon, the perfect time for a pleasurable, laid-back taste of something delicious.

Her choice of soups: Moroccan Carrot Soup and Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Ginger and Turmeric, with a cilantro pesto topping, both crowd-pleasers, and both from


Oh, yum, yum, yum!

Come to think of it, that’s the way my mom used to do all her New Year’s parties. Anchored with soup! 

The night before Julie’s party, I attended one of those parties that was the exact opposite. The table was practically staggering under massive mounds of everything sugary. People were swarming like bees among the huge towers of food. The conversation was, I shouldn’t be eating this… I’m going on a cleanse when the holidays are over… People were certainly eating and drinking, but they weren’t engaged in pleasurable conversation. It was about guilt!

My thought: it’s not so much WHAT you serve, it’s how you serve it. And it’s not so much WHAT you have over the holidays, but how you eat it. If you are going to wander off the reservation, wander! Enjoy. Look up at the stars! Eat the brownie and taste it, and enjoy it. If you put yourself on a guilt trip, you are immediately going into reflexive fight or flight, so you really don’t even taste anything you eat! 

You need a strategy for enjoying.

Ok, I did just publish a soup book, and I happen to be preaching the gospel of soup, but still. Anchor your parties with soup! If you’re going to a party, don’t go ravenously hungry! Eat something first. When you decide to eat, come at it from a place of pleasure, rather than guilt, or I shouldn’t do this, but... 

When you are confronted with food, it needn’t be about should or shouldn’t. Actively chose. If you’re on a restrictive protocol and you can’t eat or something might make you feel ill, be mindful! Eat before you go. Bring a few goodies for yourself. Take pleasure in the conversation and the people that are there. The holidays, with all the craziness, are an opportunity to connect with people you don’t always get to see, or take a break from work to enjoy colleagues and their partners at the office party. If you have an opportunity to bring something, bring soup!

Or, if this is your moment for a little decadence, how about my Insanely Good (and healthy!) Chocolate Brownies from The Longevity Kitchen? Or my wildly popular Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles from The Healthy Mind Cookbook? 

ABOVE ALL, ENJOY! THE HOLIDAYS ARE A SEASON FOR RELATING, ENJOYING ONE ANOTHER, AND APPRECIATING LIFE! FIND YOUR OWN WAY TO MAKE FOOD POSITIVE AND FUN FOR YOU, WHETHER YOU’RE HOSTING OR A GUEST. CELEBRATE!