Have you noticed that we tend to celebrate with food?  Celebrations are a powerful, culturally-sanctioned trigger to eat, over-eat, and even binge-eat.  For many over-eaters, food-centered holidays are a dreaded challenge and a source of post-holiday rumination and self-dissatisfaction. 

Here’s a new paradigm to try: have a fiesta without having a feast.  The word “fiesta” originates from the word festus which is Latin for “joyous.”  The essence of a holiday is celebration.  Eating is but one way to celebrate.  Try to experiment with celebrating a single holiday in a way that is not food-centered, in a manner that is joyous but not necessarily gluttonous.  Pick one of the many calendar holidays or personal events, and make it a fiesta, not a feast.  For example, instead of going out to eat to celebrate your birthday, have a picnic.  Eat, commune with nature, throw a Frisbee.  This way you’ll have a celebration that will involve some eating but will not be primarily food-focused.  With Thanksgiving coming up you have a perfect opportunity to try out this kind of celebration mentality.

Start simple:  if a particular heavy-eating event has been a long-standing tradition (such as a family reunion), then it is best you leave it alone, as it is (at least, for now).  Practice this fiesta-not-feast mentality on a more personal occasion in which your wishes for the format of the celebration are fundamentally your prerogative.  Relational anniversaries and birthdays are perfect opportunities to experiment.  Aim to develop a standing tradition of celebrating some of the calendar and personal events in a non-food-focused manner.