Ever since I became a raw foodist, Christmas and other holidays were a bit of a problem.
I’m not a strict raw foodist anymore and haven’t always been, but healthy eating and a high-raw diet is something that’s part of my life.
Which means that I always had to deal with what I was going to eat for Christmas with my family.
In Quebec we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so that means that Christmas Eve is THE big family reunion of the year. That’s usually the only time of the year I see some of my cousins and some aunts and uncles.
I remember a few Christmas, each with very different decisions and results.
2002 – The Raw Christmas That Made Me Sick
That year I was really trying to make the raw food diet work in my life. I had tried it for almost 3 years 100%, gave up, and went back into it. It wasn’t easy, but I was trying to make it work.
That Christmas I didn’t want to give up my diet principles for just one evening of family time. So I notified my aunt in advance that I wouldn’t be partaking in the traditional dinner of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and so on. I would eat some of the items, but not all of them.
I brought a raw dish made with almond pâté, to share with every body. I ate that, along with Waldorf salad, and fruit. My brother was still a vegetarian at the time, and ate like me. So at least we could support each other.
The result: the mixture of the raw recipes with the other dishes, however healthy they may have been, made me sick. I was already a “weak raw foodist” with a sensitive digestion, but this time I was in pain. I was trying to hide the fact that my stomach was hurting badly with gas and indigestion, while listening to my aunt rave about my dish, asking for the recipe.
I got home as soon as possible and spent a few hours passing gas and feeling horrible.
2004 – The Christmas Before My Fast
In 2005 I underwent a 23 day water fast in Costa Rica. I flew there on January 1st, so I spent Christmas in Montreal with my family. It wasn’t a raw Christmas, but I couldn’t eat much because I was trying to stay clean before my fast. So I ate boiled potatoes, salad and cooked vegetables. I felt fine. Of course, I didn’t tell my family that I was going to Costa Rica to fast for over three weeks on water! And the food wasn’t too much an issue, because this is what they thought vegetarians ate.
2006 — My First Non-Vegetarian Christmas
The year before I was traveling in Bali and spent Christmas there. But in 2006 I had taken a hiatus from the raw food diet. In fact, I had stopped being a vegan all together, for that entire year. I was exploring other options, eating other foods.
I really wanted to have a normal Christmas, but as soon as I took a slice of turkey, my cousins started cross-questioning me. “What, I thought you were a vegetarian?”
“Well, I guess I’m not.”
But for a non-vegetarian, I was awfully picky about what I ate. It was kind of awkward because I wanted to have a “normal Christmas” but I couldn’t bring myself to eat certain things, like red meat (in stuffing). And I didn’t really want to get in the complicated details of my diet history. So I muttered some non-sense and ate the tiniest amount of turkey with mostly salads, and no alcohol.
2010 – Eating Bad Vegetarian Curry for Christmas in the Philippines
That year I was traveling the world with my ex-wife. We were not raw, but were trying to stay vegan. The only option at the restaurant on the tiny island where we happened to be in the Philippines was something called “vegetarian curry.”
It was probably the worst vegetarian meal of my life. The overcooked vegetables were bathing in some kind of curry-powder infused creamy sauce that tasted like nothing, and was served with white rice. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites, so I spent that Christmas essentially fasting.
2012 – My First Normal Christmas
After two vegan Christmas in a row abroad, I was back in Montreal, determined to have a normal Christmas. It was the usual dinner, but this time I ate whatever I felt like eating. And I felt fine. I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, some Champagne earlier, and I ate a bit of everything without guilt or second thought. It was truly my favorite Christmas in the last 15 years by far!
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
This year, I decided to do a 5-7 day fast which will end about a week before Christmas. I haven’t fasted for that long in many years, and I’ll be doing it in California at a health center.
This isn’t my best timing ever for a fast, but I always feel that cleansing and detox must happen whenever it’s possible and needed, rather than just whenever is perfectly convenient (which often never happens).
It will probably be a normal Christmas for me, but a very frugal one! I’ll try to eat as little as possible to avoid messing up my system after the fast. But because it will be a short fast, I should be okay.
Whenever we try to follow a particular diet and lifestyle, holidays with family can always be tricky. Everyone has to decide what their priorities are and what compromises, if any, they’re willing to make.
I found out over the years that I’m much happier if I allow myself to eat whatever is served, with no special request, on those occasions when I’m invited over for dinner. That’s my philosophy.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t follow certain health principles – most of the time — but I’m willing to give them up temporarily to enjoy a pleasant evening without fuss over food.
What about you? Comment below…