Health & Wellness

Food is Love: The Holidays

Dr. Nnenna Abaeze DNP, RN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, CNL, PHN

As a person of color, I can speak for most when I say, holidays include food. Most celebrations in the black family include indulging in various foods and desserts. Often time, these celebrations are accompanied by “hellos” and “it’s been so long”. The excitement around trying auntie’s infamous mac n cheese or mom’s jollof rice builds during the weeks leading into the next family gathering.

In total, the experience is intended to be a positive family experience. An experience that brings the family together to laugh and gist about past times and the future. However, there are various nuances at play during many of the gatherings. 

On the drive up to auntie’s house, “mom how do my clothes look, last year aunty said I was gaining weight!” or “bro these pants don’t look too big right, grandpa kept making jokes about me losing weight?” This commentary often passed as harmless, carries weight, no pun intended. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to navigate in real-time but also painful to receive. Once arriving at the gathering, commentary ensues, and now you’re supposed to have your meal. 

These situations happen, and while uncomfortable, we must remember a few things about meals during the holiday!

  1. Boundaries: The big B-word is boundaries. Family and friends are often under the impression that they have full and complete access to you. It can lead to unnecessary and unwanted commentary. When possible, create a pause. If someone says something you dislike, pause for a moment before responding. The pause will allow the individual to consider what was said and allow you to collect yourself before responding. Creating boundaries with family and close friends protects your peace. 
  2. Intuitive eating: As often as possible honor your fullness and hunger cues. Going to gatherings can be overwhelming with varieties of food options available. Remember, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are full. It takes time to truly learn your fullness and hunger cues but practice as often as possible. 
  3. Finally, be kind to yourself. Learning to navigate various family and friend dynamics can be complex alone without the addition of food/eating. Practice being kind and gentle with yourself and give yourself time to decompress post-gathering. 

Holidays are fun and full of love and enjoyment. They are often accompanied by delicious food items that we’ve been waiting all year to have. This is your friendly reminder to enjoy and protect your peace. Boundaries are as important as closeness.