The holidays always seem to revolve around processed sugary treats. I used to indulge in these to the point of making myself sick. Emotional eating and a sugar addiction played a big role in my relationship with food. I felt very out of control and ashamed for the choices I was making, but I didn’t know how to stop.  

As I became aware of what my behavior was around food, I realized I had a choice. I could continue to play out the vicious cycle of addiction and self-loathing afterward or I could make a new choice. At first, it was very difficult, but over the years, I have developed new traditions to fit my new lifestyle.  

Here are some of the new traditions I’ve established to help me navigate through the holidays with ease.  


  1. SUBSTITUTIONS: Take favorite recipes and substitute with healthier ingredients. Recipes with dry sugar ingredients can be replaced cup for cup with coconut palm sugar, date sugar or xylitol instead. Recipes with wet sugar ingredients can be substituted with Medjool dates, honey, or maple syrup.  
  2. NEW RECIPES: Find new recipes that are healthy with wholesome ingredients online or in my recipe books, Reasonably Raw and Beautifully Raw.  
  3. PREPARE AHEAD: Make a batch of my raw brownies or coconut macaroons and put them in the refrigerator or freezer to enjoy when those tempting times come. These are excellent recipes to bring to cookie swaps too and share the recipes with friends. 
  4. FRUIT INSTEAD OF SUGAR: Choose fruit over sugar every time and eat plenty of it. Fruit is very healing and the sugars don’t react in the body like processed sugars do. The fiber from the fruit helps slow down the absorption of the fruit sugar. If you keep the total fat consumption for the day to about 10% or a handful a day, the sugars will go through the system and act as fuel, feeding every cell of the body. So, reduce the fat and increase the fruit and you’ll find your sugar cravings will disappear. 
  5. FOCUS ON OTHER THINGS: Create ways to take the focus off food and onto the meaning of the holiday instead. Spend quality time with family playing games, doing puzzles, reading stories and just having fun.  
  6. BE AN EXAMPLE of healthy living. If you want to hand out neighbor gifts, give them a jar of something you’ve preserved from canning season with a pretty fabric over the top and a hand-written note, a loaf of fresh baked bread, or a Christmas ornament or card.  Showing your neighbors kindness during this season and throughout the year means a lot and keeps the community close together.  
  7. RESIST TEMPTATION: Bring your own healthy dessert to share or a large tray of fruit. To help resist the temptation to indulge choose to get out of the kitchen and socialize or do something else while everyone enjoys dessert.  
  8. HAVE CONFIDENCE in how you choose to live. Get rid of the ego, but stand tall as you do what you feel is best for you. Others will take notice and wonder what you are doing and want to know more.
  9. SELF-CARE: As parents, mothers especially, we tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. What we don’t realize in doing this is that we eventually deplete ourselves of resources to help love and serve those around us. Then our health becomes a crisis. Do what is advised by the airplane stewards. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you stay alive and are effective at helping others.

At first, it may be difficult or socially unacceptable to make changes like these. But in the long-run, if you stand firm, you will feel better, look better, have more energy, and be an excellent example to others. I remember going to parties the first year I decided to eat mostly raw foods. The pressure I felt was self-imposed but I’d get an occasional look from others around me and questions of what I was eating. It took me awhile to work through these emotions and realize that no one else was going to take care of my body. That was my responsibility. It was no longer worth feeling sick, ashamed, bloated, or in pain just to please everyone around me. As I took charge of my life and did what I knew was right for me, I felt happy and people noticed.  

Now, 8 years later, there are a lot healthier options on the Christmas dinner table. My family knows what I will and won’t eat and they do a great job of trying to support me in my efforts. I also bring healthy alternatives to share and get a lot of compliments on the taste as well. I feel more accepted and they ask questions about their own health challenges too. I’m always happy to share the knowledge I’ve learned.  

I hope these tips help you this holiday season. Please feel free to visit my website for more recipes and information at 

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Written by Wendy Thueson

Wendy P. Thueson is owner of Raw Chef Wendy, LLC. She is a certified Chef, Master Herbalist, and Raw Food Coach. She is passionate about the healing power of plants and sharing her message of hope with others because of her life changing experience regaining her health in 2009. She suffered from chronic fatigue for 28 years, debilitating neck and back pain, brain fog, stuttering, Grave's disease, and hypoglycemia to name a few. Wendy began eating a high amount of raw foods and using herbs medicinally. As a result, she is now symptom, pain and medication free. She educates all ages through hands-on classes, speaking at various events, and has been featured on television, radio and in magazines. She has authored several books and online programs to help others learn how to eat and live happier lives. She is an adoring wife and mother of four. You may find her at