Holiday Eating

We asked our favorite Ayurvedic doctor, Deacon Carpenter, how he balances the holiday food bombardment. As always, he has some great tips and valuable take aways to understanding food and its value in our lives.

When I was a boy growing up in England, there was one thing about Christmas that I eagerly looked forward to; my grandmother’s cooking.

My grandmother was the most resourceful cook I knew. She would use vegetables from my grandfather’s garden and whip up the most incredible Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and parsnips. At Christmas, it didn’t matter if we were having duck, goose or turkey, it always tasted delicious and had her own signature to it.

Looking back now, some of the ingredients she used to cook with could be considered completely unhealthy in some circles. For example, she used ‘drippings’ in place of healthy oils like olive oil or ghee. Drippings are rendered fat from roasted pork.

However, my grandmother was from a different generation where they used everything, and wasted nothing. To me, everything she cooked was pure love on a plate.

In Ayurveda, this is known as ‘Oka Satmya’, which literally means pseudo-suitable. In the case of my grandmother’s cooking; it may have been considered ‘unhealthy’ to some, but it was prepared with love, and that made it taste better and made me feel better.

As we enter the holiday season, there are many things we may now consider ‘bad for us’, like marshmallows on sweet potatoes, or green-bean casserole, but the holidays are about compassion, love and togetherness and that is clearly expressed in the food we eat together. So rather than put everything at the table on your ‘avoid’ list and cause a fight with your family, I have a few tips to keep your holiday dining in the spirit.

  1. Embrace you food – many of us feel worse after eating a meal that we know (or have justified) is terrible for us. This is mostly psychological – if you never eat green bean casserole, because you consider the ingredients to be terrible and, you eat thinking this, you will feel pretty terrible. However, if you eat the same dish knowing that a family member prepared it with love, you will generally feel very nourished after the meal.

  2. Don’t fill the tank - Eat until you feel about 2/3 full. This is quite hard for many of us, because our families bring their A-game to the holiday table, and not experiencing ALL of it would just be rude, so be mindful of your portion size, and remember, you MUST have some of Aunt Annie’s Pumpkin pie

  3. The Nooner - Try to have your main Thanksgiving or Christmas meal at lunch – the body’s digestive fire burns brightest between 12:00PM & 1:30PM. Take advantage of the bounty when your body can truly handle it

  4. Dine and Dash– After eating such a feast, most of us want to just sit on the couch as the tryptophan kicks in, but I would suggest that you wait for 20-40 minutes, then go for a walk with your family. This helps your body to digest the food more efficiently.

  5. Get out of the cold – Avoid drinking iced cold beverages. This will bring your metabolism to a grinding halt. Instead, have room temperature drinks and try to avoid drinking a lot of fluids during your meal. To really get your digestion going, try having some hot water with freshly grated ginger.

  6. 80/20 Rule – I try to instill this with all of my clients – follow your diet and routine for 80% of the time, and 20% of the time have fun, celebrate and be with your family.

  7. The morning after – If you did indulge the day before and are planning on going running the next day, ease back into it. A lot of stress is put on the body when we consume more food than we are used to. If you can, hit the road a little later in the morning, and cut your usual distance by 50%. Also, eat a lighter diet – this will help to offset your intake from the day before.

For more information on Ayurveda or to understand what foods are best for your body type, visit

Deacon founded Daily Veda after working in Global Advertising for 16 yrs. He practices yoga, runs and promotes healthy living through natural eating and Ayurvedic medicine. He is an Adjunct Professor at Maharishi University of Management and is a wealth of knowledge and fun.