12/02/2014 05:46 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2015

Holiday Family Drama: It's Not About the Food

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Going home for the holidays? Perhaps your in-laws are coming over this year for Christmas or Hannukah? What you are sure to get during the holidays is a mixture of different food preferences and personalities. Do you ever wonder what the holiday drama is all about? Is it really about the green bean casserole? Nope, it's hardly ever about the food.

Emotional Eating

You see, foods provide us with emotional anchors. The smells and tastes of certain foods activate memories that anchor a past time in our lives, both positive and negative. Holiday foods have the power to transport us to a different time and place. We make certain emotional connections to the dessert grandma once made, or the bread loaf aunt Ruth made.

Our "no thank you," can be received as "I don't approve of your food," or "that is not good enough for me." Essentially, family can interpret you passing on a piece of pie as a form of personal rejection. How do you know when you should pass on a certain food or make your own to share with others? Let's review your own personal food choices first.

Expectations of Dietary Habits

In this day in age, people are experiencing an increase of food intolerance with ingredients including wheat, soy, dairy and corn. Many people confuse the difference between a food allergy and intolerance.

A food allergy leaves you with an immune system reaction to foods which lead to symptoms including dizziness, faintness, swelling of the lips, throat and tongue; closing of the throat, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rash, hives or red and itchy eyes.

A food intolerance means you have the inability to digest a food properly, which leads to symptoms including stomach and bowel upset, zapped energy, headaches, migraines, bloating, hives, runny nose and feeling under the weather. So, how do you stay clear of the foods that keep you bloated, puffy and sick while preserving your family relationships?

Preserving Family Relationships

Holidays should be all about connecting with loved ones and also about recharging your physical and emotional batteries. Here are three simple steps on how to do both!

1. Share with family members about any food sensitivities you have ahead of time. This will help lower defenses and help your family plan ahead of time. Sharing your food choices also shows you are being mindful of their effort to plan for your visit or theirs.

2. Talk about why you have made changes in your diet and the positive effects you have had with these changes. People love to be inspired by your own transformation. Who know? You might inspire them to start making small shifts their own diet too.

3. Share any recipes you have with them. Tell them you would like to bring something new to try.

People will inevitably feel cared about if you are willing to share what you know and what you eat. Be honest with them about your new lifestyle or the one you are trying to create; include the challenges as well as your accomplishments.

4. Gratitude always wins! Express your gratitude for their visit with you and tell them why they are important to you. Let's remember that at the end of the day, holiday food is all about connecting with the ones we love. If we take a moment to acknowledge those we care about, chances are they will feel connected and cared about too.

Sharing Is Caring

While honesty can be challenging at times, everybody appreciates authentic transparency about the way you live your life and most importantly your willingness to share it! Share with your family why your habits are important to you and that you appreciate their support.