The Myth of the Special Occasion

Remember when a special occasion was something like your birthday or Christmas dinner? Someone cooked a big meal with all the fixings or you went out to your favorite restaurant. And maybe you ate a little too much, or something not so healthy. No biggie. It was a special occasion.

But today, going out to dinner on Wednesday is a special occasion.

How did the special occasion become less, well, special?

I think partly because we eat out more frequently. We’ve ingrained the memory from childhood that dining out is special, particularly those of us who were children in the 70’s and prior. So now when we eat out, it “feels” like we should treat it as a special occasion.

But there’s something else at play that I notice in my work. I think we crave special. We crave “treating ourselves.” And I think we should. But we’re trading a moment of special for the long-term consequences that come with over-eating.

The real question for me is, can we change what we make the special occasion mean? (Check out my video on this topic, here)

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Try these three mindset shifts to do just that:

  1. When celebrating someone else, focus on the moment over the food. When you go to your neighbor’s birthday party, remember it’s her special occasion. Have the intention to honor her with conversation and connection. Then, choose food based on what you enjoy and your health goals.
  2. Decide that no matter the occasion, over-eating is not warranted. Whether at a fancy party, Thanksgiving dinner or dining at your favorite restaurant, eat enough to satisfy your body and feel good. Again, identify the spirit of the special occasion and let that be your focus.
  3. Treat yourself without food. I know what it’s like to come home from a long day and feel like I need a break. What it’s like to want to zone out with a glass of wine, some mac & cheese, or both! But those false pleasures are momentary, and the consequences are enduring. Consider what it looks like to really treat yourself, without food and without alcohol. Choose to do that more often.

I love the idea of treating ourselves, of making moments special. The more ways we have to do that, the more amazing life is. And, when we can enjoy food, love life and be at our ideal body weight, it’s even better!


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