Dealing with friends and family who may not understand your healthy lifestyle during the holidays

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Images 20 1 | Dealing With Friends And Family Who May Not Understand Your Healthy Lifestyle During The Holidays


Vacation Mode


Is it just me, or do the majority of people seem to be in ‘holiday’ mode already, even though it’s only Tuesday?


Although I am no longer in school these days (and get scheduled ‘breaks’ from life as I know it), there’s something about holiday weeks that feel special.


Like there is a universal (unspoken) language, that, even though we do have work to do still, and the holiday takes place on only one day of the week…it is vacation time.


Vacation from e-mail. Vacation from phone calls and meetings. Vacation from pressing deadlines.




Now, I am aware that this is a generalization, but commonly speaking—it is Thanksgiving week—not day.


That being said, you are more than likely spending more quality time during this time of year with friends, family…and food, as perhaps less time with things, like your usual ‘routine’, fitness or feeling comfortable 100% of the time.


Me oh my, the holidays can evoke all sorts of funny things around food, as well as fitness and lifestyle choices—can’t they?


What do I mean?


What you are eating—or not eating.


What you are making to eat—or not making to eat.


What you are doing—or not doing.


Say for instance, you’ve recently decided to embark upon some new healthy living choices—perhaps aimed at nourishing your body with more wholesome nutrition, taming your sweet tooth, incorporating regular exercise into your daily lifestyle, sleeping more soundly, or backing off on the booze that you used to drink like water…You are no longer your old self.


Out With The Old


You are becoming a new self—and are currently, in process—daily making healthier choices for your longevity, your health, your energy, your life.


Or, for those in recovery from an eating disorder, perhaps you are be battling hard to conquer it—and make new healthy lifestyle choices for yourself (not ED) on a daily basis. Yet, knowing Rome was not built in a day, it doesn’t mean that recovery happens over night, or eating Aunt Bethany’s famous Key Lime Pie that you loved as a child comes easy, or ‘looking’ like you are healing is the right gauge for your friends and family, or feeling 100% completely comfortable amongst all the food festivities is expected…




Often times, your friends and family—those nearest to you—can be both the most supportive, and also non-supportive, persons on ‘your team’—depending on the situation.


These can be rough waters to try to find smooth sailing if you don’t have friends or family who necessarily completely understand, or agree with, the personal health journey you are on—or where you are in that process. (Particularly during the holidays when you are faced with a heck of a lot more feedback, opinions, comments and underlying pressure to conform, please or earn approval from those you love most).


And you know what?


That is normal, and that is ok, to feel conflicted.




Because we love our family and we love our friends—and their opinions and our relationships with them do matter.


What is not ok?


To feel like you MUST please everyone, or live up to others’ standards that they seem to set for you.


What you must do?


Know your truth.


Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are your lifestyle choices truly supporting your health? Are you able to find a healthy balance between your routine and the flexibility that holidays inevitably bring?



Here are a few tips for taking on the holiday week ahead, that may attempt to throw a curveball or two into your new self-care habits—and what to do about it.






  • Check in with yourself. What lifestyle choices and healthy things have you been incorporating that build into your ability to thrive in life? Keep your focus on continuing to do those things that you know are best for you and have worked to help you continue on a good healthy path.






  • Let it go. In the words of my favorite song from the movie Frozen—let it go. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt us. As elementary as that phrase is, let it be a quiet mantra you uphold. People will always have opinions in our lives—both positive and negative. As those words come, we have a choice—to hold on to them, analyze them, make us crumble inside…or to release them as just that: an opinion.






  • No explaining necessary. You shouldn’t feel like you have to explain yourself for taking care of yourself. If you are truly doing things that are healthy for you, than the results will show—regardless of who’s on your bandwagon right now or not.




  • Mindfulness. So food is going to be around during the holidays—no questions asked. Mindfulness is all about being able to take part in the ‘festivities’ while also being mindful of your hunger/fullness during the meal and the other actions and choices you make on behalf of your health and personal journey. Maybe everyone else’s schedule isn’t on yours—for instance, your usual workout time is the time the clan wants to go to a movie or play a game. Maybe move your workout to earlier in the day. On the food front, perhaps casseroles aren’t your jive—but you could contribute a few fun ones you found off of one of your favorite blogs ( is one of my faves!). Being mindful that holidays are a bit different than your routine—but that doesn’t mean you have to let it completely warp your healthy lifestyle.





  • Relax. I say this for you and you alone. It can be easy to get anxious, stressed or nervous around navigating questions, stares, talk or unsolicited opinions from others surrounding food, fitness and other lifestyle choices. Take a deeeeeeeeep breath in through your nose, counting to 10 on the inhale, and….exhale for 10 seconds, breathing out through your mouth. Find your ‘happy place’ regardless as well—maybe that means getting some fresh air outside and going on a walk or run to calm you. Taking a hot shower and getting away from the noise in the house for a bit. Getting out of the kitchen and having a friendly conversation in the living room.






  • Sharing is caring. While everyone may not be into making healthier choices when it comes to food, fitness, health and lifestyle, you may be surprised when you let loved ones IN on your new healthy habits. If anything, perhaps they will understand more why it is you do what you do (be it replacing your old binge sugary desserts with fresh fruit, nourishing your body consistently—even if it’s not your ‘old standbys’, moving your body regularly to release endorphins and build strength—from the inside out, etc.). Invite your family members to take a stroll or play a game of football in the front yard, instead of camping out in front of the tube; or to help you make a new dish for the Thanksgiving table; or to play a game instead of just camping around the table all afternoon. You don’t have to preach your new healthy lifestyle habits at them either—just let them in on it, and be the change you wish to see—leading by example.



On that note, here is one of my fave Thanksgiving side dishes that is simple yet delicious to adorn your Thanksgiving table:



Pic courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon




1-2 lbs. Brussels Sprouts (I personally LOVE the Brussels Sprouts stalks that are available in stores now)


2-3 TBSP melted coconut oil, ghee or drizzled olive oil


4-5 nitrate-free turkey bacon slices (or pork bacon)


Sea salt & peppr, to taste


Balsamic vinegar—2



  1. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
  2. Trim the ends of any extra stalks on your sprouts.
  3. Cut your sprouts in half.
  4. Dice/tear the (uncooked) bacon into small bits.
  5. Toss the sprouts and bacon with your melted fat, sea salt and pepper.
  6. Place them on a foil-lines baking sheet or in a glassware baking dish.
  7. The sprouts take about 35-45 minutes to roast.
  8. Bon appetite!
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