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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Surviving the holidays part 1 – family and friends.

Like it or not, the holidays are quickly approaching. The stores have plenty of Holiday merchandise out, grocery stores are taking orders for holiday meals. No doubt, you have started to plan for your holiday celebrations.

So what happens when you have made the decision to be plant-strong and your family and friends have not jumped on board (yet)?  Does it mean you have to stay home and never see your friends and family again?

Absolutely not! It just means you have to be prepared. Here are some tips for surviving the holidays with your non plant-strong family and friends:

1. If you are hosting, plan a plant-strong meal. You can tell your friends/family that are coming over that you found some great holiday recipes that you are really excited to try out and that things might seem a little different, but there is going to be PLENTY of great food and of course lots of fun! Make dishes that do not have a lot of strange ingredients – it might not be the time to make tofu and seitan center stage on your table. Instead go for things like stuffed acorn squash, pumpkin soup, fabulous sides like green-bean casserole and of course a delicious desert like apple pie!  And make the table look beautiful! Really wow your guests with a beautiful table setting!

2. If you are not hosting, bring a few dishes that you can eat. Again, it is best to not make a big deal about it, just tell them that you found a couple of recipes that you really have been wanting to make, and you’d love to bring something.

3. Don’t bring attention to your new way of eating. Just enjoy the time you have with your friends and family! Fill your plate up with lots of plant-strong food and enjoy.

4. If someone asks about you not putting turkey on your plate there are lots of ways to handle it.

  • Tell them that you want start with all of the sides (chances are they will forget you didn’t take any turkey at some point).
  • Tell them that you are really trying hard to stick to this eating plan, but thanks anyway, it all looks delicious!
  • Make a joke – “Oh didn’t you hear? I was kidnapped by vegetarian aliens!
  • Tell them you are going to pass for right now.

5. Use the seem strategy. At Engine 2 we work with a wonderful psychologist, Doug Lisle, and we use this advice all the time! When someone asks about your diet tell them “it seems to be working for me”. It can diffuse a conversation pretty quickly.

6. Don’t use this time to lecture people about their poor eating choices. When Aunt Mildred is reaching for the deep fried turkey it is best not to yell “NOOOOOO!!!!! IT WILL DAMAGE YOUR ENDOTHELIUM AND IT COULD KILL YOU!!” Just let it go this time, and enjoy your family gathering while eating your lovely plant-strong  side dish.

7. If someone is asking a lot of questions – tell them that you would LOVE to talk more about.. some other time. Tell them you’ll give them a call or send them an e-mail in a few days.

8. Find some new traditions! Enjoy a family walk, play a game of flag football, go sledding! Find a reason to get out of the house together and do something active.

9. Tell the host that you have some really crazy food restrictions, and not to worry at all, you will bring a few dishes to share. Your host might insist and say “OH but tell me! I can make you anything!” You can either tell them about it, or you can just say: “The list is really long, and I don’t want to drive you crazy trying to figure something out for me, but thank you so much for being so nice about it!” or give them something they can do like a big vegetable tray.  It is even better if you can give specifics like, “You know, actually it would be great if there was a big vegetable tray, I really love cucumber and brocoli!”

10. Remember what the holidays are really about… your family driving you crazy. (kidding! kind of :) ) The holidays are about spending time with your family and friends, so make it about that. Have a long conversation with your Aunt Mildred (who had the deep fried turkey earlier) about her life, find out about where she grew up, people she has met. Play games with the nieces and nephews, maybe bring a holiday craft with you to do with them. Catch up with your brother or sister who you really only see on facebook because of your busy schedules. We have made the holidays about food, when they really should be about the people we share them with.

As the holiday season approaches, we here at Engine 2 are here for you! Be sure to like us on facebook as well as Rip and the team. If you are stuck or need to vent, or need some advice, get that smart phone out and write to us!

This holiday season remember that you are part of the Engine 2 family!

About the author

NatalaE2
Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

15 Responses to “Surviving the holidays part 1 – family and friends.”

  1. Marcia says:

    This post made me tear up! Thanks for including us as part of the Engine 2 family! I feel lots of support from you!

  2. Dawn says:

    This really helps! It is my first Thanksgiving I am hosting and I really don’t want to make bad food. I’m going to look on Martha Stewarts site to get inspiration for some holiday table settings! And I will be sneaking away to let you know how it goes on my iphone haha

  3. Mike says:

    Love the bit about Aunt Mildred! My whole family is Aunt Mildred. Love my Engine 2 family! Thanks guys.

  4. Patti says:

    That apple pie looks amazing!!! Now I know what to bring for dessert! Can I just eat dessert? :) :)

    I want to be an Esselstyn!

  5. Jen says:

    You guys cracked me up at my desk this morning! Thanks for the great post, again, loved the kid post the other day too.

  6. Linda says:

    My kids are all coming home for Thanksgiving and I already told them about how we eat in the house now, they didn’t like it very much. But I told them that with out this diet their dad would probably not be here, and that we could really use their support, it won’t be easy for their dad not to be carving a turkey this year. Funny, they all perked up and stopped complaining. Now we’re having a big plant-strong meal!

  7. The endothelium line was the best part! LOL Thanks, Rip. Oh, the rest was great too — I’m feelin’ the commiseration. :)

  8. Mary says:

    YOU mean I can’t tell them about the endothelium?! You guys made me laugh this morning, I really needed that! Thanks for the support, I will be letting you know how my Thanksiving goes!

  9. Cindy says:

    You guys need a new book with all of this information! These are great tips! Can’t wait to read part 2, whatever it is. Thanks for the laugh as well.

  10. Michelle says:

    I plan to keep my mouth closed at the family gathering about what I can and cannot have, and bring a great big bowl of salad and pig out on that! No explanations offered. We gather to socialize, so that is what you do, make the food ultra minor for you, afterall you know the secret of a healthy life! You will be amazed how peaceful you will feel!

  11. Lynnette says:

    I need some help as we approach our first plant strong holiday season. What about whipped cream? How do I replace that? My daughter’s absolute favorite recipe has cranberries, pineapple, walnuts, sugar, whipped cream and mini-marshmallows. I can splurge on vegan marshmallows and snip them up. I can use alternative sweeteners. But what about the whipped cream?! I would appreciate suggestions.

  12. They also sell a vegan whipped cream at a lot of markets – probably wherever you find vegan marshmallows – might be worth looking into. (we’re not sure of the nutrition though)

  13. Kathi says:

    My favorite Thanksgiving foods are the side dishes anyway (think harvest season, i.e.; plant based), so skipping the turkey is a natural for me. Although I have other commitments this year, I plan to be hosting many a Thanksgiving dinner in the future so I can whip up a bunch of plant-based dishes and share them with family and friends who’ll get to experience what another style of delicious food tastes like!

  14. I am new to all of this, and can’t imagine a life w/o eating meat.
    But, I will not have a life according to my doctors and cardiologist if I dont make some changes, quick.

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    The Engine 2 blog will feature tips, plant-strong success stories, how to make plant-strong work, answer your questions and feature special guest experts. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you become and stay plant-strong. Please be sure to jump in the conversation by leaving comments on each post!
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