A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

November 30, 2008

As an overweight woman, I have a love/hate relationship with Thanksgiving. On one hand, I really like the holiday. I love the fall colors, the chill in the air and the fact that our entire family gets together. We don’t celebrate Christmas, and no one’s thrown a Chanukah party in years, so this is THE family holiday for us during the seasons. And yes, our family actually gets along. When we see each other, it’s usually a happy occasion.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving can be a huge trap for those trying to lose weight. You’re surrounded by mushy, easy-to-eat foods (seriously, almost every Thanksgiving dish from craberry sauce to the creamed spinach is like baby food) and then surrounded by family members who gorge themselves on said meal. In other words, it’s like peer-pressure for bingeing.

This year, I had the added pressure of attending not just one, but two Thanksgivings. On Thursday, Jon and I went to his Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe’s annual party at their house. Then on Friday, I joined Scott and his family for a slightly belated celebration. I’m happy to say that I survived both.

My game plan was to enjoy myself and not go overboard, which is exactly what I did. Things got a little dicey at Sue’s when I had one too many of the pig-in-a-blanket hors d’oeuvres she laid out, but I quickly checked myself and didn’t use my “slip-up” as an excuse to gorge myself during the rest of the evening. Instead, I took a small scoop of everything I wanted to try and limited it to one serving. That was it. I had to show extra restraint this year because we had few enough people that we could actually eat at the table instead of eating buffet style. So the trays of food were right in front of me. But I managed to distract myself by enjoying the conversations around me and by paying attention to the things I liked that weren’t food.

Before I went to Scott’s, I asked my friend to make sure I didn’t overeat.

“Are you sure?” Scott asked. “It’s Thanksgiving, I don’t know if I’m comfortable doing that.”

“Do it!” I insisted. “If you see me scarfing down too many pieces of pie, yank the plate away from me. I’m serious. I won’t be angry with you.”

“Oookay,” he said hesitantly. “If you say so.”

When I got to his house, I was going to kill him when he put out a cheese tray (cheese is one of my trigger foods) right in front of me. Thankfully, he also thought to put out some vegetable crudites, so I munched on those instead. Later, I did the same thing I did at Sue’s: I ate a little of everything, but kept it to one serving. And when I did want a piece of the pumpkin pie cheesecake, Scott smoothly asked, “Do you want a whole piece or a half?”

Also joining us that day was Scott’s friend Matt. Matt’s lost a lot of weight on a program involving intense workouts and  pre-packaged meals. Of course, everyone asked me why I don’t order these meals. I don’t think they totally understood my explanation, so I’ll try here in writing:

My problem is bigger than knowing what to eat. I know what to eat. I know what a good portion size is. Hell, I have measuring cups and a scale, if I need to find out. I’ve also done the pre-packaged programs before and it worked for me… for a little while. Then I’d get upset over something and happy over something and use those emotions as excuses to eat. Sending me little packages won’t matter. While this works for some people, I need to change my BEHAVIOR around food. I’ve finally come to accept this, that I have an eating disorder, and need to alter my outlook on life. Permanently. Packaged meals won’t do that for me.

I appreciate them trying to help, though, and am glad that I have friends looking out for me. I’m also proud of myself for the way I handled Thanksgiving and how I managed to view it as more than just a holiday about food.

And I found the best way to make sure I didn’t overindulge on cookies. I brought a box of rainbow cookies — one of Scott’s favorites — and he ate almost the entire thing. I guess even thin people have bad days!