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As wonderful as the holidays can be, they can also be that stressful.
If you are having the festivities at your house, you want everything to be perfect…beautifully set table, appropriate flowers and centerpieces, totally redecorated home, all the old family favorites cooked just like grandma used to make. Then there is the added stress of trying to remain gluten-free, dealing with blood sugar issues, and not wanting to gain any weight during these next two months. Factor in the reality that not all families are a Norman Rockwell picture and the holidays can be difficult.

High expectations, hectic preparation for the big day, family spats, and worries about overeating can take all the joy out of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are a few tips that may help cut down on the chaos and stress:
• write down your plan – when you will shop, how much you need to buy, what you can prepare ahead of time
• if you have guests coming, ask them to help by bringing a dish (send them a recipe if you are that kind of person!) or flowers for the table
• should you decide to try a new dish, do a test run before the holidays so there are no unpleasant surprises on Turkey Day
• ask for some help in the kitchen that Thursday…kids can fold the napkins, set the table, help straighten up the house and even help cook

When the turkey is in the oven and it’s too early to do the last minute cooking, go out for a walk. Take the family with you. Over dessert, share family stories and memories. These are precious and a good way for children to learn family history. Enjoy the food you have lovingly prepared…in small portions. There are many ways to make the old favorites fit in with your healthier life style; it just takes a little planning. If you don’t want leftovers, pack them to leave when your guests do! Rethink your relationship with food by using affirmations or meditation prior to the holiday.

Put aside family hurts and grievances. Be grateful for the love you have and the love you wish to give. Invite friends who have no family near and would like a place to spend the holiday. Make your ‘thankful list’. You can even go around the table and ask everyone to share something for which they are grateful.

If you are spending the holidays alone, see if you can help serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter. Make a new tradition by going to a movie, go on a hike on a near-by trail, tackle some chore you have been putting off because you felt you didn’t have the time for it…accomplishing something like that creates a wonderful sense of satisfaction. And if you are alone, for whatever reason, it is even more important to make that gratitude list. No matter your situation, you always have so much for which to be grateful.

Chill out. Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!

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