Receiving Holiday Food with Thankfulness

 image by Cameron Nordholm

On this Eve of Thanksgiving, I want to talk about being thankful for food. Not just any food, but the food you eat that isn't what you would choose to eat. 

My husband is going to be a pastor. An important part of being a pastor is eating with people. Potlucks, dinners in homes, graduation parties, weddings, informal gatherings, cookies after the service on Sundays...you name the church event, and it's likely that it will involve food.

Being someone who thinks very carefully about the food my family eats, it isn't always easy to receive the food that others make with thankfulness. And where is the balance between caring about your family's health, and being gracious to those who have prepared food for you?

Many of you are going to be at family gatherings tomorrow in which you didn't cook the food. Maybe it's not up to your standards of "Real Food." For these situations, here are a few things to remember.

Tips for Receiving Holiday Food with Thankfulness

1. Remember that people are more important than food. 
Holidays are about people. Family, friends, the body of Christ. Let love, not your desire to eat perfectly, drive your actions.

It sounds kinds of silly, but when I eat food that I know is unhealthy, I pray that the love put into the food by the hands that made it would overrule the negative effects of its ingredients.

2. Ignore the ingredients, as long as it won't make you sick.
If you have food allergies, you know well what you can and cannot accept. If you do not, you need to use your best judgement. For example, I'm finding that eating too many refined grains gives me gas pains that last for several hours, and too much sugar gives me a headache. Learn your limits, and respect your body while respecting those who prepared the food.

3. If it will make you sick, be gracious in your refusal.
If you know something makes you sick and you can't eat it, don't make a big deal out of it. Let the host or cook know that you will have a physical reaction to this food and you really can't eat it, but that it looks delicious and you wish you could! And be smart: eat beforehand, or bring your own food if necessary!

4. Fill up on the Real stuff.
Find the food that looks the least processed and go to town!  If you know your family's recipes, you should be able to choose easily. And if you really have a hankering for some of that less-healthy green bean casserole (or whatever it may be) go ahead and indulge. Just don't gorge yourself on it. :)

5. Offer to contribute to the meal.
If you offer to bring a substantial dish to a gathering, you know your family will have at least one thing they can eat that you feel good about. And then everyone else can taste how delicious real food can be!

6. Hope for change over time, while respecting traditions.
Just being your lovely Real Foodie self may make a difference over time. Maybe your family will start investing in a turkey from a local farm. Maybe they will find alternatives for the cream of something soup in a casserole. Maybe they will include more fresh vegetables into the meal. But don't expect your family to be ready to let go of their traditional recipes. Just give gentle nudges, and keep on loving them. Cause they're the only family you've got!

I Love My Family!

I also want to note that I love my family, and I'm so grateful for all the delicious food we eat when we gather for holidays! A lot of it is real food without even trying to be, and my mom just told me that they're ditching the store-bought pie crust and stuffing this year in favor of homemade alternatives. Oh yeah, and I seriously can't wait to eat my mom's sweet potato souffle.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Do you have any tips to share for receiving holiday food with thankfulness?

This is part of Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesday

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