In our ‘civilized’ world, food isn’t just used for survival, food is a drug. Do you know anyone who consistently refuses food when offered?

I know people who, when food comes around, say, “I really shouldn’t,” or “Just a bite.” Then they sit down, fill the plate, smell, taste and dig in. Even my picky grandsons eat regularly, although not always when we want them to eat. They haven’t figured out the social aspect of eating, yet.

Sitting at the dinner table means new textures, new shapes, new colors, new words, a roller-coaster adventure that doesn’t necessarily include the mouth and stomach.

Even my other husky, serious-about-eating grandson discerns between food-as-fuel and food-as-play. Food is the glue that binds us, especially around the holidays. It makes us happy, at times comatose, and we seem to be always ready for more.

Holiday High

As the holidays roll around, food images, recipes, gifts of food, food banks and food sales burst on the scene, advertising their goodness in a photoshopped, brilliant display of color.

On offer are meats in their shimmering browns and reds, fruits and veggies brighter than a rainbow, white dusted cookies, shining chocolates hiding their inner secrets of sweet tastes. Even the scrubbed red potatoes are deep pink in the ads.

Who can resist all that color, all those suggestions of taste buds gone high?

Food and 60+

How are you going to deal with the onslaught this holiday season? 60+ probably means you want to watch your waistline. 60+ may mean that you’re tired of food prep, and you reach for eating out or prepackaged meals.

60+ may also mean that your digestion isn’t what it used to be. Your teeth are not as solid as you would like, your blood sugar levels are unstable, and your ability to wash it all down with alcohol diminishes.

Instead of focusing on food as the enemy, I suggest that you see food as a holiday gift. I’m not asking you to join in the consumer frenzy of eating at the holiday parties and giving away food baskets, while turning off the guilt button about eating too much.

Whatever your age, empathy, health, social connection and creativity are the building blocks of a good life. What better way than turning balanced living into holiday sharing?

The Gift of Empathy

Give a meal away, every day, during the season. Skip one of your regular meals, half of several meals, or give up snacks and put food or money in the collection boxes for people who don’t have enough to eat.

You’ll control your food intake, enjoy your other meals more, and you’ll feel connected in some way with those on the other side of the food spectrum. Do Lent in December!

Win-Win: Your heart will be full, and other people’s stomachs will be full.

The Gift of Health

Increase your metabolism by committing to exercise this season, five days a week. Don’t wait till January, don’t let weather or travel get in the way. Walk indoors or outdoors, or do any other exercise you like. How about dancing through the holidays?

Win-Win: Your health will improve as your metabolism will speed up, and you’ll be able to enjoy that extra cookie without feeling guilty.

The Gift of Social Connection

Bring people together for a meal. Invite people who live alone to share a meal you prepare. Bring lunch to a person shut in. Make a list of people who don’t get out much, or invite friends who don’t know each other, and let them form new connections.

Win-Win: Expand your social circle, and help others do the same.

The Gift of Creativity

Spend time making your own gifts of food, with family or friends. Organize cookie exchanges or cooking parties to make specialty foods.

Don’t feel like creating with others? Enjoy turning your summer harvest into gifts, herbal mixes, dried flower sachets, red chili sauce, dried fruit compotes – the possibilities are endless.

Win-Win: You’ll make someone happy with your home-made gift of food, and you’ll be happy while you create.

Have you found ways to deal with the holiday food frenzy? How are you going to make holiday eating a gift of social experience? Please share in the comments below.

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