This past week I got a ton of questions regarding how I deal with celebrations that are centered around food; occasions such as thanksgiving. And I was trying to think of how to respond because my situation has always been a little different.
I did get to celebrate thanksgiving with my family last year, just before I went into the hospital, but the majority of the meal I prepared.
Ryan and I hosted, electing to have an evening meal around 4:00 PM, with a light arrangement of hors d’oeuvres beforehand.
But here is the thing; we had it at our home, meaning who was in control?…ME (and my pesky eating disorder that was super strong at the time!)
So let me first start by explaining how last year went, and using this as an example of what NOT to do.
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. prepared the turkey (using no butter or oil), starting the slow roasting process, and then exercised for my typical hour.
I made breakfast and started assembling the layer cake for Ryan.
I chopped all the vegetables for the 2 pans of roasted veggies I was making (no butter or oil, just veggies in a pan, with salt, pepper and my convection oven).
I baked a loaf of bread and some pumpkin muffins (no butter or oil, of course).
Chopped the second round of veggies for my salad.
Made the salad dressing (you guessed it, no oil)
So I don’t completely bore you to death, I wont give you every detail of the cooking process, but as you can see, nothing that I listed contained any additional fats. Even the pre-purchased stuff I used, such as hummus with a veggie and cracker tray as an appetizer, was essentially an eating disordered choice.
After I showered, made myself some egg whites and yogurt for lunch (pathetic, right), and got the pre-meal munchies set out for our guests, I continued to prepare the meal while everyone nibbled and enjoyed so I could avoid my hummus and crackers without causing too much of a fuss.
“CJ, can we help you with anything?”
HA! Help?! No way…I was super woman at this point. I could totally do anything and everything without anyone’s help.
Once the table was finally set, and everyone was ready to assemble their plates, I sat down for the first time since over 12 hours before.
My plate was piled high with roasted veggies, white meat turkey, and the largest salad anyone could ever imagine, followed by about 6 cups of Perrier because I was still starving upon completion, but had already planned the “I am too full right now” excuse when it was time for dessert.
At about 6:30, after everything with cleaned up and people were getting ready to leave, I started to crash. My body was tired, I felt weak and all I wanted to do was put on some sweat pants, snuggle up on the couch and watch a Christmas movie with my hubby.
I was still pretty hungry so I made 100 calorie popcorn, sprawled out, and within 5 minutes of snack consumption, I passed out.
I slept until 6:00 the next morning, the only thing waking me was a gentle nudge from Ryan to transfer from the sofa to our bed.
I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, and it showed. I was frail, pale, and deteriorating with every passing day.
A few weeks later my medical rights were taken and I was put in an inpatient unit for the entire holiday season.
Please don’t repeat my mistakes. Please remember that this time of year is not about the food. It is about counting our blessings (NOT CALORIES!), a time of giving, family, friends, warmth and love.
Of course there are bigger meals, celebrations involving more indulgent or special treats, but try to take the focus off that and emphasize the true reason behind the gathering.
I know this is all easier said than done, but honestly, one month of yourthe year, where you may or may not go over your caloric needs for the day, will not make or break your existence.
You will not gain 34538 pounds instantly, and your legs will not double in size just because you ate a slice of pumpkin pie. What would be sad was if you avoided these extra special moments and festivities because you lived in fear, as I did/do.
Don’t miss out on the memories. Don’t beat yourself up if you decide to enjoy some of your seasonal favorites.
A guilty life is not a life, and I wish for you to have a fabulous holiday.
I hope Thanksgiving was a joy, but if not, there is still more than a month left of holiday traditions coming your way.
Change your mindset and change it now. I certainly am trying to!
It only happens once a year, and you can never get this time back. You deserve it.