Powerless against the Feast? I think not.

I’d just like to start off by saying to all of the vegans out there that I have a newfound respect for your way of eating- it’s hard!  It takes serious dedication and commitment and I salute you all.

I was reading Tina’s post today about getting back on track after a binge and her tips for it, particularly with the Holidays around the corner.  This led to people talking about splurging for the holidays and THAT led (Why is the sky blue?) to me thinking about how I approach my eating on any holiday.  According to the New York Times, people gain anywhere from 1-5 pounds during the Holiday season.  Now, one pound doesn’t seem like much (maybe one nasty stomach flu or bad Indian takeout), but it is also said that most people who put on weight do not end up taking it off.  So, for some people, it is a big deal.

I’ll confess that I have stopped weighing myself as part of my commitment to better my body image. I know that I can tell when I’ve gained weight by how my pants feel, but also by how I feel physically. At 5’9, one pound doesn’t make much a difference for me visually, but physically, I feel miserable because well, to gain one pound of fat you’d have to eat approximately 3500 more calories than you burn.  Yikes!

When I lost 80 pounds almost two years ago, I had to completely reframe the way that I think about eating.  In my house (My mom is Italian and my step-dad is Polish), cooking is paramount to family gatherings and my mom and step-dad are not calorie conscious in the least (remember this lasagna?).  Lard (yes, lard), bacon grease, cheese and butter are the key words in many of their favorite dishes.  Thanksgiving is no exception.  So, what’s a girl to do?  There are a number of ways that I deal with this:

1. ) Set aside ingredients before they get drenched in butter, grease,
maple syrup, etc.  i.e. plain baked sweet potato, squash, green beans,
etc.  I do this with most meals, anyway, so even in the midst of the
cooking chaos, my stepdad will just do this for me without me even
asking anymore.  Honestly, there are things I enjoy way more than the
unhealthy versions of these things that I would rather splurge on.

2.)  Pick a couple of my favorite things to enjoy in moderation before
the meal even starts(mom’s pumpkin praline cheesecake and gravy, for
example).  I can truly savor them because I’ve made smart choices elsewhere.

3.) Contribute to the meal by cooking healthy, nutrient rich foods that
everyone will enjoy

And THIS is the *key* to any holiday for me:

While I recognize that some things truly are seasonal and only available
during that particular holiday, I tell myself that the food will ALWAYS
be there
.  While I probably won’t make pumpkin pie in July, if I REALLY
and truly want it, I can go the store, get the ingredients and make it.
Stuffing?  I can have that any time. Knowing in my mind that this is not
the only time that these things will be available truly helps me enjoy
them in moderation.  My mind isn’t going…”Must load up! Must load up!
You can’t have this until next Thanksgiving!”  It’s a mind trick in a
way-  But it’s true.  While I will indulge (you simply MUST 😉 and
Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake is my idea of heaven), I am not tempted to go
overboard and I can even decide that I will go with the better choice
(baked sweet potato instead of candied yams) without feeling like I am
missing something.

I’m really looking forward to this year.   We go and get our tree at a Christmas tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Nothing like laughing at your mom’s impeccably bad tree choices.  I love my mom, but she cannot pick out a decent Christmas tree to save her life.  One yearwe ended up with a tree with the top half bent at approx a 60 degree angle.  I kid you not.  It was a slightly tricky a complete and freakin’ nightmare/death defying stunt trying to get it tobalance in the tree stand!  Mom and step-dad go entirely overboard with the Christmas decorations.  You don’t think that’s possible? Come visit.

It is.  My step-dad collects snowmen and snowman themed tchotkes.  But that, my friends, is for another post.

And gosh, fine. I’ll admit. I love every cheesy bit of it. 😉

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About annenglish

I often think my the right side of my brain dominates- I live to create things. Color is one of the things that brings me great joy and in everything that I do, it is a theme that takes on great aesthetic importance. I am a jewelry designer, metal artist and writer (wanna-be.) During the day I work in an office, and while I like it, I spend my days dreaming about the next thing I want to make. As a result, I am the post-it queen- design ideas are always strewn about my desk, waiting for me to gather them up and take them home at the end of the day. Oh, yeah. I'm also a tremendous slob, which is unfortunate because I love to cook and washing dirty dishes is my least favorite chore to tackle. I'm a healthy food enthusiast and amateur chef. Cooking is a tremendous creative outlet for me- experimentation is my hallmark...whether it's surprising color combinations or flavor combinations.
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4 Responses to Powerless against the Feast? I think not.

  1. Great tips! The food WILL always be there. It is so true!

  2. Kat says:

    I’m not good with mantras or remembering things “in the moment,” but “you can eat that later” is slowly working its way into my affirmations. I’ve got such a huge problem with instant gratification – if I buy a dozen cookies, I CANNOT ration them…if they’re there, I want them then. This is a mindset I need to tackle especially this time of year – just because it’s Thanksgiving/Christmas does NOT mean I get to eat things all the time that I normally would pass on. Even if it’s “seasonal” – you’re right in saying that you can usually get that kind of thing year-round anyway. So yeah, “that will be there later, you can eat that later, you don’t have to eat that (all) now” is a HUGE thing I have to get used to assuring myself of. 🙂

  3. jesstyler says:

    I love that saying – the food will always be there. SOO true!

  4. Great post. Helpful without taking the fun out of the food. More people need to remember that you don’t have to eat Every.Single.Thing. laid out on the holiday table (although I have been guilty of this on occasion!)

    ps: photos of the collectible snowman themed tchotkes would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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