Friday, December 14

Down with Holiday Food Guilt!

And so it persists, this problem with food. I've been eating better than I was when I initially wrote about my struggle--mostly thanks to suggestions of pure brilliance from friends--but I'm battling boundaries I didn't know existed here in my mental waywardness of edibles.

Having the stomach flu this week did nothing for my desire to eat nor my ability to consume food... Even though I feel 100% human today after a terrific night's sleep, I hesitated when I went to pack my lunch this morning. I had almost nothing to go on because I hadn't had time to get to the store... So I left my house a few minutes early to hit the local grocery before work. Now THAT was a stroke of genius. I bought Greek yogurt, burritos, fruit, and Odwalla juice because Lord knows I need more vitamin C.

But back to the initial pre-flu struggle. I've been concerned about how to handle the holidays since they're centered around food and tend to put eating habits on display for observation. At Thanksgiving I was able to make myself eat a plate of turkey and fixins without too much trouble. Christmas and New Years (and for those of you who celebrate other holidays like Hanukkah or Kwanza), though, brings lots of little celebrations to dot the calendar as people are able to gather together. I've been a bit nervous about any critical remarks I might earn with the evidence of my appetite or lack there-of.

Thanks to some good Twitter friends, I found Shape Magazine's 10 Responses to "Food Pushers". These are things to say when someone tells you to have some more, to take seconds, or something like that. Admittedly, Shape Magazine probably has in mind who its readers are, so the article is slanted towards people who are fit (or trying to be) and body conscious.

Note: most of the situations indicate that the person is skinny or could manage to gain a few pounds, or suggest that the person is eating unhealthily or has an eating disorder. But in our world obviously there is a blurred line between fitness and illness... This is not a perfect world, with none of us perfect.

The title of the piece is a little misleading because not all of the responses indicate that the other person wants you to take more food (i.e., food pusher). For example, there are responses to "Girls don't normally eat that much" statements (indicating you've eaten quite a bit, or at least more than this person expected) and "Should you really be eating that?" kinds of questions. These are definitely helpful to people outside of what I am assuming is the standard readership of the magazine. (Disclaimer: I'm human and make assumptions; forgive me if I'm incorrect.) Have a look at the situations and the responses. I think I feel better about going to dinner parties just having read that because I think I can intelligently respond to whatever quip someone lobs my way, whether about my appetite, my size, or my weight. (Which, quite honestly, I've been doing for years, but somewhat less gracefully. Mostly with silence.) At the very least, this article prompted me to think about the things I wouldn't want to say...

I can talk myself into changing my habits for just these few days, few hours, few minutes that I'm walking past cookie trays and passing the butter and complimenting the cook... But I'd be sick, uncomfortable, and unhappy, so it's not worth it. Besides, it's honest to goodness work that I'm doing in all the time OUTSIDE of the holidays that matters most. (Furthermore: here's more evidence that mindful eating is the eating that matters most when making memories of food.)

Enough with the guilt. I know what I'm doing for myself. I am going to do my best and I hope that you do your best. I am killing the guilt with knowledge about my habits and how to work on them. I know the cause of my problem and I am taking steps to help myself. I am taking down the guilt by staying strong when facing food pushers who urge me to eat more than I might be comfortable with right now.

How are you taking down the guilt? How are you staying strong? I'll lead the charge. Follow at will. :)

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