Russell James, the Raw Chef and creator of our Weekday Raw workshop, talks you through tips on how not to fall entirely off the health wagon this Christmas.
If you’re worried about this, you’re not alone!
So Christmas is coming up. It’s a time to enjoy the love of your family and friends, celebrate and be thankful. And because food is such an integral part of Christmas, there’s an opportunity to really be more mindful of the foods you’re eating.
I’ve found there’s two different paths you can take.
The first path is where you start letting yourself off the hook a bit. Your normal healthy routines start to erode, because you start to thin, “heck, why not, it is Christmas after all”. Maybe you’ve even started down that path already. Maybe just a little bit?
I’m having fun with you here, and I say this with love. But at the same time, I really want you to think about your health at this time of year. I absolutely want you to have fun with your friends and family and I want you to hold a standard for your own health and wellbeing that serves you, beyond just popping another sugary chocolate in your mouth, “because it’s Christmas”.
If you’re around friends and family at this time of year, your healthy eating habits can stick out like a Red Delicious in a box of Granny Smiths. And when Love, togetherness and connection are the themes, it’s not nice to feel separate.
So what’s the other path?
Let me explain that path with a little story. When I first got into raw food, I was living in a house share with 2 friends. There ended up being 5 of us around the dinner table for Christmas dinner, and while they had their turkey roast, I had prepared a raw walnut and sunflower loaf with my favourite: stuffed mushrooms. I must admit, it felt a little bit strange to begin with. I felt the difference in what I was eating versus what my friends were eating, but as we started, I realised the really important thing that I was with friends, and that we were connecting.
It was the conversation and the laughter that made it for me. After a few bites, I felt completely at ease. And then after the meal, I felt so energised and proud of myself for doing something so positive for my health.
In subsequent years, whenever I’ve been around a family dinner table at Christmas, people have always wanted to sample my food, because it just looks so much nicer. And my raw mince pies are enough to completely replace the traditional pies, without the need to tell anyone they’re raw!
They’ll ask you for the recipes
It’s entirely possible – with the right guidance – for you make beautiful, exciting raw foods this Christmas. Foods that honour your health commitments to yourself, but that also make other people around the table kind of jealous of your food. Here’s a tip if you’re the guest at someone else’s house. . .
If you’re worried about being a pain in the arse, or being ‘that person’ who is doing this raw food thing and making your hosts do things especially for you, then ask if there’s anything they’d like you to contribute to lunch. You can say that you’re trying out this raw food thing and that you’re really excited about it, and you’d love to make a contribution with your new found skills. Even if you just eat the food you’ve taken, along with some of their cooked veg, you’ll be having a fantastic, delicious and healthy Christmas meal. I warn you now though. Be prepared to email recipes to your friends and family the day after Christmas, because they will ask.
Once people know what you’re into you might get a few nice surprises too. I had a Christmas day meal once where the host had been on to my site and made my pomegranate cheesecake, without me having any idea until it was served to me. It was a really lovely surprise.
OK, I admit, I’m not perfect
It’s funny though, even when I thought I had eating raw down to a fine art, there were years when I just got carried away with the spirit of the season. Before I knew it, I was eating Christmas dinners, drinking beer again for the first time in years, and topping it all off with chocolate after chocolate (not raw, BTW). I’m not here to demonize those things. What I’m saying is this: it wasn’t actually how I wanted to eat, because of how it made me feel afterwards. But I still did it! Can you relate?
Focusing on the favourites
But then things changed for me. I realised I was setting too high of an expectation for myself and trying to do too much. The stress and expectation of trying to be a perfect raw foodie at Christmas must have made my inner child rebel. So I decided to bring the joy back into my festive food offerings, and just focus on a few of my favourite recipes. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to have some of my favourite recipes that I knew always worked, and that I only made at Christmas. This made them more special to me. And in fact, still to this day, when I make these recipes I always promise myself I’m going to make them more often. . .they’re just so good. After all, recipes this good shouldn’t just be kept for Christmas (although mince pies in the summer may be a little weird!).
Don’t sabotage your New Year
And that’s why I put this page together for you. I want this to be a healthy Christmas for you. That means eatingfoods that you feel really good about. I want for you to be able to make recipes that show off your love of healthy food in a way that piques other peoples’ interest. Imagine a Christmas where you feel included, nourished and that enables you to move into January healthy and happy. Imagine getting that running start into the new year. It makes everything else so much easier to go into 2016 with momentum in your eating habits, rather than having to do what 99% of other people do, which is to get massively unhealthy at Christmas, and then try and fix it with a new year’s resolution. Because we all know how successful New Year’s resolutions are….
Happy Christmas, love Russell James.
To view Russell’s Weekday Raw workshop click here.