6 Easy Tips to Enjoy the Holidays While Following Your Hashimoto's Lifestyle PlanDec 09, 2021
Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years can all bring so much joy and celebration. It’s a time to gather, reflect, give thanks, be generous, share joy, honor our faith, and create memories with loved ones and friends.
At the same time, they can also bring a certain level of stress, good stress or bad stress, the body responds the same and it can lead to awkward conversations, disappointed loved ones, cancelled plans, miserable illness, and long lasting flare ups if you aren’t careful to care for your body as you navigate all-the-things.
Over the past years I’ve learned a few methods to manage my Hashimoto’s needs, but still participate in traditional holidays, without feeling like I’m missing out while everyone else is having fun.
Depending on the stage you’re in with your treatment, some of these may seem simple, or they may be impossible. Please note that I wasn’t always where I am now either. I used to be so sick, so miserable that I had no desire to even problem solve. I simply grieved the loss of the life I thought I was supposed to have.
Now, I have learned, I’m living, and was always living, the life I was supposed to have. The bumps and bruises, uphill struggles and downhill joyrides are all part of my story. Now I get to share what has worked and what hasn’t in hopes of bringing you hope that your story will also make more sense as you go along. You will at some point figure out how to cope, how to encourage, and how to help others with similar pain points as you.
So let’s get on with the 6 tips to enjoy the holidays while also following a modified nutrition and lifestyle plan that supports your Hashimoto’s lifestyle needs.
Tip #1: Don’t give up on your basic needs:
- This is where you reflect, and decide what your non negotiable needs, need to be. For example, I know for sure if I go several days with compromised sleep, poor eating habits, or high stress situations, I will almost definitely have a crash of extremely low energy and overall feeling of being hungover, or possibly a full blown flare up which for me is an automatic 3 day migraine and bed rest.
- I want you to think of what things are most important to you also. Make a list of things you cannot compromise, and then make plans around that. Plan parties/events/and gatherings so that you can still participate, but allow yourself enough time to prepare or recover, or simply set boundaries that will keep balance of what you need. If you don’t your body will eventually demand it. I’ve found, giving your body what it needs first, makes everything else so much better than having to cancel plans or disappoint loved ones because you’ve overdone it and can’t keep up with your commitments.
Tip #2: If possible, plan to participate in events by bringing a dish and/or beverage to share.
- This takes away the stress of wondering if you will have anything at the party or event that is safe for you to eat or drink.
- Also, most likely there are at least 1 or 2 other people who also have needs like you, but didn’t know how to plan ahead for it, and they will appreciate your contribution as well!
- Ask the host ahead of time if it’s okay to bring a dish and see if there’s anything specific they are needing or wanting. You might be able to adapt the item they need to a recipe you can also have. If not, bring what they need, but offer to bring something extra as well.
- Most of all, don’t just expect the host, or anyone else to magically know how to accommodate your needs. It may just be too much for them to consider, or they may not know it’s even a need.
Tip #3: If someone takes the time to ask how they can accommodate you, be open to share and educate!
- This is your chance to open their thinking to the needs you have. Give them all the tools or recipes, or help you can to make the adjustments you need.
- Most of all, don’t say, “oh, it’s no problem, don’t make adjustments for me,” when really you know deep down it would be FABULOUS to have those accommodations.
- If someone is taking the time to try to help, use that time to bring awareness and equip them with what they need to be supportive, it’s what they actually want to do if they are asking you. You never know, after you educate them, they may find the changes may benefit them as well!
Tip #4: For catered events like work parties or corporate gatherings, get the menu plan ahead of time.
- For this, you can ask the Event planner, “who is catering and what foods are planned.” The event planner may already know what foods are allergen friendly. If not, ask for the info to just contact the caterer yourself.
- If you find some or none of the foods are something you can eat, then it’s time to decide how to adjust. Some options might be:
- You can eat before going, and skip the catered meal altogether.
- You can eat the parts of the meal that are safe, and skip the ones that aren’t.
- You can ask the caterer ahead of time if they offer alternatives for certain food allergies.
- You can bring snacks like beef sticks, protein bars and nuts to munch on discretely.
- You can eat after the event.
- Focus on building relationships and participating in activities rather than missing out on certain foods. Whatever you do, don’t allow your brain to focus on how you’re missing out and start creating a negative mindset that ruins the event. It’s simply not worth missing out on building relationships and making memories with friends and family over feeling mad about food limitations. Trust me, I’ve been there, it’s way more fun to remember a holiday for the fun times you share, than it is for the ways you missed out.
Tip #5: When you find something that works, make a note of it.
- As you problem solve, experience events and activities, find or create new recipes, you will find things that worked, and things that didn’t. Make a note of the best events, the best recipes, the best cookbooks and blogs, the best accommodations.
- Keep it in a note in your phone so you can reference for the next year and plan accordingly. Don’t just let it pass and say you’ll remember, because the nature of Hashimoto’s brain fog says you won’t. You’ll end up going through the next year with possible repeat frustrations all over. Just keep a simple note of what you liked and what worked, you’ll thank me for it later 😊
Tip # 6: Don’t entertain debates with friends or family who are challenging your choices.
- Everybody seems to have an opinion when they notice you say “are there any gluten free options?”
- Everybody has an opinion when you decline the alcoholic drink. (What is she too good to drink with the rest of us? What, you can’t just have a little fun?)
- Everybody has an opinion when you choose to leave early because your body is giving signs the night is done.
- Here’s what I’ve learned about those “every bodies.” The ones who cast their opinion about my personal choices, usually have no idea at all about my personal health journey, why I do what I do, and how their statements make me feel. They also will NOT be the ones suffering if I compromise my care to please their opinions. So, I encourage you to stand firm in your boundaries and choices, allow people their personal freedoms if they feel the need to share their opinion, and agree to disagree. If they truly care and want to understand why you do what you do, then let them know you’d be glad to explain another time, but for now, you’d like to enjoy the party. Set a time to meet for coffee or whatever and give them a chance to learn more about your story if you feel the need to share. But please, I beg you, don’t give up on your needs to satisfy, please, or gain approval from the “every-bodies.”
In closing, here are 3 actions steps you can take today?
- First, how to help yourself: Establish a list of your non-negotiable needs.
- How to help others: Help your friend or loved one with hashimoto’s stick to their chosen boundaries. When someone or something is pushing them to give in and compromise their non-negotiables, step up and help them stick to their guns.
- How to dig deeper: Check out a couple of my favorite cook books for the holidays. I have an amazon link on my online store that shows several of my favorite books. I especially love The Paleo Baking at Home cookbook by Michele Rosen. Her blog, paleorunningmomma.com is also an invaluable resource for paleo recipes.
If you feel overwhelmed or stuck, I’d love to help you with one on one coaching sessions to help you navigate the ups and downs of your own Hashimoto’s journey! I will walk alongside you, validate your concerns, equip you with tools and resources to help, and encourage you along your journey so you never feel alone.