Clean Eating, Whole 30

Food Freedom Holiday Tips

There’s no way around it – December – especially the week of Christmas and New Years – is a tough time to be practicing Food Freedom.

Cookie platters seem to be appearing out of thin air and it suddenly seems like a good idea to crack open a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night. Many of us (me included!) give ourselves “permission” to indulge now because we know we’ll pull it together with a January Whole 30.

It is certainly ok to enjoy the holidays but a food-free-for-all is another story! Try these Food Freedom strategies from Whole 30 to decide which foods are “worth it” and which foods don’t really matter after all.


1.    Breakfast of Champions – Regardless of the holiday festivities in your day, make sure you kick it off with a good-sized healthy breakfast. Load up on protein, vegetables, and healthy fat so you are starting the day satisfied and full of nutrient-rich food.  With a solid foundation in the morning, you’ll set yourself up to make better choices for the rest of the day. The Whole 30 food will also help keep your sugar dragon at bay when faced with goodies at a holiday event.

2.    Routine Matters – Your holiday schedule may be crazy and filled with lots of parties, dinners, and social engagements. Despite the chaos, do the best you can to stick with your regular routine. Have your coffee and quiet time in the morning before the day begins. Get your workout in as you usually do – and maybe even take a friend or family member with you! If you stick with the things you know your body needs and craves, you will be more likely to be grounded and present during holiday events – and in turn, better able to decide if certain foods are worth it. If you are out of sorts with your routine, you can expect your eating to be out of sorts as well!

3.    Have your “worth it” questions handy (from Food Freedom.) There are several questions you can ask yourself before you decide to consume “a potentially less-healthy food or beverage.” Among them are: “Is it worth it?” “How will consuming this impact me physically, mentally, and emotionally?” “Do I really want it?” “Do I need to consume anything here to enjoy the experience?” You can use any of these questions – or some of your own – to help you decide if something is truly worth it. Keep these questions handy on your phone, on a notecard, or on your fridge. Make it a habit to run through them when you are faced with something you know has the potential to “mess you up.” As Melissa says in Food Freedom Forever, “it’s important to honor your truth in that moment by asking yourself if you even want it in the first place, and declining if you realize you just don’t. Nothing derails food freedom faster than eating something you knew you didn’t really want, leaving you feeling out of control and disappointed in yourself.”

4.    Be honest with yourself and others – If you shove leftover candy in your face at midnight when no one is watching, then it doesn’t count, right? Many of us are familiar with holiday (or non-holiday) secret binges. It’s a terrible feeling to sneak food, obsess over it, and then feel guilty after it’s eaten. Be honest with yourself – and with others. If there are foods that are making you feel uncomfortable in your Food Freedom, acknowledge that. You can move them elsewhere or maybe ask relatives to not to bring them. Know yourself – and understand where you are in your Food Freedom journey.

5.    Give yourself permission to decide in the moment – It may be tempting to try to map out your holiday events in advance and try to plan when you will indulge, and when you won’t. Don’t do that! Go into each event with an open mind, and permission to flex your Food Freedom if you think it’s worth it. By doing this, you are not setting yourself up for binges or cheat days, or feelings of deprivation or sadness. And things change day by day: At one party you may decide a glass of wine is worth it but at another gathering, you may be happy sticking with seltzer. Or at a holiday brunch you may decide that you want to stick with eggs and veggies but at work party, it’s worth it to go for a piece of cake. Rely on the tools you learned in Food Freedom Forever to give yourself the space to make these decisions as you as faced with them.

6.    Play the tape through all the way to the end – As you are deciding if something is worth it, fast forward in your head and think about the very end of the situation. Will it truly be worth it in the end? How will the wine/cake/cookies/ chocolate/etc. make you feel in an hour? In two hours? The next day? Will you feel physically sick or emotionally tied to sugar? Will you be able to hit that workout you have planned in the morning? Will you feel your best when you see friends and family tomorrow? Will it all be worth it then? By playing the tape all the way through, you allow yourself the opportunity to think about the final outcome of the eating experience – and then you truly decide if it will be worth it. This is a brilliant strategy and one that I am planning to use throughout the holidays and beyond!

7.    Make your plate last if needed – This is great tip from Whole 30 about going through buffet lines or making a plate during a family-style meal. Let everyone else take first and use the time to run through your “worth it” questions. If you are the last one to take, you won’t feel rushed or stress out about having lots of other eyes on your plate. You can take your time, take deep breaths, and choose wisely. And if you want to go back for more – or something else – make sure it’s really worth it (using many of these strategies listed) and be mindful about what you put on your plate. Go slow (it’s not a race!) and truly enjoy what you are eating and drinking.

8.    Show yourself grace – We are all so much kinder to others than we are to ourselves. If you eat something and it turned out to NOT be worth it, don’t beat yourself up. Take it as a learning experience, vow to do something different next time, and move on. Don’t let your days be filled with guilt or shame. Reframe and grow from it. And don’t wait until the next Monday or month or even numbered day to make a change – Start with your next bite.

9.    Savor the moments and the food – The holidays can be a loaded, emotional time of the year but at the end of the day, they’re about spending time with family and friends. They are not meant to be a time to beat yourself up or feel guilty or shameful. Embrace the holidays for what they are, take time for yourself in the busy-ness, and remember to savor the people and the experiences (special food included) that come around only once a year. Food is a piece of the holidays but there’s so much more. You can be in control of the food – not the other way around. Sip, savor, and enjoy! And know that anytime you need it, a Whole 30 (or a shorter reset) is at your fingertips to help you get back to feeling your best!

Mom Life

A New Way to Count Down the Days of Christmas

My boys will be 11 and 5 this Christmas, and every year I revel in watching their awe and wonder at the holiday season.  I know these “magical” years are numbered, so I’m trying my best to slow down and take it all in.  I’m excited to share a new Christmas tradition with you that I think will do just that: A Book-a-Day Advent Calendar.  

I can’t take credit for this amazing idea –  I remember seeing it on Pinterest when Rush, my oldest son, was a baby and then was reminded of it’s brilliance again when my friend, Melissa, did it with her children last year.  

The idea is to open one wrapped book every night from December 1st through Christmas Eve and read it together in front of the tree as a meaningful way to count down the days until Christmas.  

Twenty-four Christmas books seemed like a lot, but I searched my house for every Christmas/Holiday/Winter-y book I could find; and it turns out, we already had a fairly good collection!  I think I ended up buying about seven new ones.  My youngest son is learning to read right now so I chose a few that he will be able to read to us.  

I wrapped each book individually and then gave it a number to represent the day it will be opened.  On December 1st all of the books will appear under our tree so the magic can begin. I’ll let the boys take turns opening the book each night.  We’ll start with The Christmas Wish and end with The Night Before Christmas.  

To make your own book-a-day advent calendar, you’ll need 24 Christmas, holiday, or winter-y books. If you are building your book collection you could even start by doing the 12 days leading up to Christmas. There is no need to buy all new books. You can find great books at thrift stores or borrow them from your local library.  Once you have collected your books, you will need to wrap them up and number them 1-24. 

Here are the books included in our Book-a-Day Advent Calendar:

The Little Christmas Elf by Nikki Shannon Smith

The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond

The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Britta Teckentrup

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

Olive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

A Very Merry Christmas Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A Birthday Party for Jesus by Susan Jones

The Night Before Christmas by Charles Santore

Song of the Stars by Sally-Lloyd Jones

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell

The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

Jesus Calling: The Story of Christmas by Sarah Young

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Tractor Mac Saves Christmas by Billy Steers

Am I missing any must-read Christmas stories?  Please share your favorites as I hope to mix in a few new ones each year.  

Here’s to a slow and magical Christmas season ❤️.