Hot cocoa by the fireplace, decorating the tree, gift exchanges, and Christmas carolling. All the smells, sounds, and tastes of the holiday are accompanied with so many emotions. I love this time of year, the warmth of family is a beautiful contrast to the cold of winter (well “cool” for us floridians). As you gather with family and friends that live near and far, good conversations are had and many memories are made, but as conversations and family lifestyle habits begin to collide, perhaps your family and friends begin to notice some distinct lifestyle differences your family may have with other relatives. As a holistic health enthusiast, many contrasts become obvious, quickly. From food choices, to cosmetics and toiletries, to medical decisions, my family shops, eats, and treats healthcare wildly different than both my relatives, and my husbands.
These comfy gatherings often lead me to awkward situations, like my grandmother feeding my diary-free one-year old daughter ice cream. Perhaps my mom mentions something about my homemade diaper rash cream, or my grandmother rants about how everyone should have the flu vaccine when I know my children are not vaccinated. Maybe it is in your use of herbs and essential oils instead of generic medicine, or it’s the gluten-free, diary-free, no sugar added dessert I brought to the gathering. Whatever the reason is, my holistic lifestyle is showing, it’s like a scarlet letter, it doesn’t go unnoticed and is usually not understood and even poked fun at. My mom always chimes in with her, “You will come full circle, I had a natural living streak in my day.”
But how, I ask myself. How can I know everything that I know, and make consciously hazardous lifestyle decisions. I just can’t. I’ve seen studies about the harmful effects of diary, the hazardous chemicals in traditional soaps, and lotions. I know the side effects of over-the-counter medicine, and conversely I have found more benefit for the health of my family in not using traditional medicine. Maybe you are in the same boat as me, you are convinced that your healthy lifestyle is worth being different and facing adversity that may arise in family gatherings. The question is, how do we navigate these gatherings, anticipating that there will be questions and even concerns about your lifestyle choices.
4 Tips for Handling Holistic
Own it, You’re Officially a Minority
73% of the United States population is overweight, and healthy is far from mainstream.
Explain, Don’t Defend
Have a valid reason for what you believe and the choices you make so that when people ask you can be confident, sound educated, and also not feel like you are having to defend yourself, but rather explain yourself.
When people see that the way you live aligns with what you are talking about, and then see the consequences (usually positive, like healthy kids or weight loss) of living that way, it begins to get gears turning, and you will experience less resistance.
Community is Key
Surround yourself with likeminded people, dedicated to learning more, and applying what they learn about natural health.
Smile & Wave
Don’t actually just smile and wave, that might come off as rude, BUT realize that other people, that you probably don’t want to take advice from, will chime in with advice and opinions. It reminds me of a lecture by Dr. McDougall, calling out other “nutrition experts.” The first part of his lecture was simply arguing the credibility of other nutrition experts by their own health and appearance. He says, why take nutrition advice from someone who is fat? I think of this similarly with holistic living. Why take lifestyle tips from people with unhealthy habits? Remember this as your grandmother blabs on about all her pain and health problems while shoveling banana pudding into her mouth.
It’s Okay To Be Different
First of all, you are not alone. Over the years I have befriended many people who are like-minded on this holistic living journey. Family friends that I can count on for tips, fellowship, and encouragement. For me, when I get around family, my health journey feels more isolated. I have to remind myself of the friends I have that are on the same journey with the same desires for holistic health. For one of my fiends and I, this comes in the form of sending funny holistic health memes to each other.
Secondly, let’s be honest, healthy is not normal in our country. 73% of the US population is overweight. If being healthy means being a minority, count me in. That is some adversity I am willing to endure. I see the fruit of this in the health of my children (and my own health). My children have never had anything more than a cold. My son and daughter have not been on antibiotics (other than an anti-fungal for thrush when we were traveling… but that’s another story). This is rare today. We are an overmedicated, unhealthy, fat country as a whole. Don’t believe me? Here’s the facts: Our leading cause of death is heart disease and our third leading cause of death is medical error, as proposed by a John Hopkins study. 1
Know Your Stuff, But Don’t Be a Know-It-All
When people show concern, especially with more controversial decisions like vaccines or traditional medicine, you want to know your stuff. Honestly, if you don’t know why you are making importance life changing decisions, you need to learn more, read more, study more. Read a good book on nutrition, do some research on medicine or vaccines. Know ingredients in both food and medicine and how they affect the body. Have a valid reason for what you believe and the choices you make so that when people ask you can be confident, sound educated, and also not feel like you are having to defend yourself, but rather explain yourself. The reality is, a lot of people just don’t know, but you might spark there interest if you are kind and educated about your decisions.
Walk It Like I Talk It
Minutes ago, my coworker told me “you are honestly the healthiest person I know,” as I was heating up my lunch of taco style beans and corn, with whole wheat pita and guacamole. I didn’t “try” and pack a healthy lunch, it was just my lunch. When we shift our mind-set from “dieting” or “restricting” to lifestyle changes, our actions align with our words and knowledge. From searching to non-toxic household products, to the use of herbs and super foods, to DIY cleaning, to whole-food cooking, the more I learn, the more my actions shift to more holistic living. When people see that the way you live aligns with what you are talking about, and then see the consequences (usually positive, like healthy kids or weight loss) of living that way, it begins to get gears turning, and you will experience less resistance.
When gathering with your family this Christmas, don’t be ashamed of your lifestyle decisions, just be fun with it. Bring a delicious dish that everyone can enjoy, while staying true to what you believe about health and wellness. This season I made an eggnog pie for one gathering - everyone loved it!
Here is the recipe:
Gluten-Free Pie Crust (With Vegan option)
Ingredients1 ¼ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
6 tbsp soft but cold butter (can substitute for vegan butter)
4-6 tbsp ice cold water
- 1In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar & salt.
- 2Slice or dollop the cold butter into the flour/salt mixture. Gently work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork. (Don’t overwork, chunks of butter are good).
- 3Transfer the dough to plastic wrap or plastic storage bag and work with your hands until you mold the dough into a ½ inch thick disc. Wrap & refrigerate for at least 1 hour but up to 2 days.
- 4Taking your chilled dough, place it between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper and use a rolling pin to flatten it and shape it to the size of your pie dish.
- 5Remove the top layer of the wax or parchment paper and transfer the crust by laying the pie dish face down onto the crust. Using the wax paper for support, gently return the pie dish and crust to the upright position.
- 6Using your hands, gently work the pie crust into the pan.
- 7If your filling is a no-bake filling, after freezing the pie crust in the pie plate for 30 minutes, cover your crust with parchment paper, and weigh your crust down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the weights/beans & parchment paper, poke little holes in the bottom and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown
Notes: Inspiration from the Minimalist Baker
No-Bake Vegan Eggnog Pie Filling
Ingredients2 ¼ cashews, soaked & rinsed
½ cup coconut milk
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp organic cinnamon
½ tsp organic nutmeg
½ cup coconut oil, liquid
- 1Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth
- 2Pour filling into your crust.
- 3Let the pie sit in the refrigerator overnight
- 4Remove, slice, enjoy!
Tatiana Schmidt - Holistic Nutritionist
Tatiana Schmidt is a certified Holistic Nutritionist and mama to AJ, a 3 year old boy and Baylin, a 1 year old girl. She has a passion for health, nutrition, and delicious food. You can find her work in the Sprigs Magazine, on the Sprigs Blog, and at tatianaschmidt.com.