For may of us who struggle with our weight, this week is very stressful. For me, cooking a huge meal for the people I love is awesome. I enjoy showing those I love and care about how much they mean to me, and creating a special meal of Thanks Giving is one way to do that. At the same time, though, there is anxiety about seeing all. that. food!
It starts in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Food shopping, food prep, baking, chopping, organizing, and making sure there are plenty of hor d’oeuvres in addition to the plethora of main dishes, sides, salads and desserts for the big meal. Oh, and let’s not forget that we actually need to eat on those days leading up to Thanksgiving, lest we pass out long before the turkey-coma sets in on Thursday.
Making Thanksgiving dinner is one way many of us actually exert our control over the day. We use all the knowledge we have to plan a menu that incorporates skim milk instead of heavy cream or full-fat milk, we sauté in heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter, we make sure there are plenty of veggies and that the desert options include something we can partake in even after a full meal. But the realty is that sometimes we throw our hands up and convince ourselves that one meal with butter, extra helpings of sweet potato casserole (never mind that the nutritional value went out the window when we added the 5 eggs, 1/2 cup of white sugar and brown sugar and the pecan streusel topping) and bread and dressing and that cheesy-broccoli-rice bake that everyone loves (in which there really wasn’t much broccoli hurt in the making of it) won’t really hurt.
But it does. We think about this week and what it will mean for us, constantly. We ‘eat right’ on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and don’t lick the bowl on the cheesecake and brownies and fudge and cookies – until about 9pm Wednesday evening when panic sets in. How are we going to get it all done? Maybe no one will like our sugar-free casserole or our fat-free mashed potatoes. Maybe we should taste them ‘just to be sure’. And darn it, they do kinda suck. Ugh! It’s just one done. One day won’t hurt! So off to make more food, to make sure everyone knows how much we love them. And the butter. Need more butter!
So let’s step back a moment. We cook for our families almost every day. They know we love them. And yes, Thanksgiving Day is special. It’s a day set aside to make sure that those around us, and even ourselves, know how grateful we are that they are part of our lives. And that, my friends, is our motivation. Being healthy ensures we are around. Active. Involved. Part of their lives. Enjoying ours.
Thanksgiving began as a feast, as was customary when welcoming guests. Just as today, we create special meals when we welcome guests. But unlike then, we didn’t trudge miles nor did we hunt and gather our own food (although, grocery stores this time of year can be treacherous). Our Thanksgiving day consists of doing nothing but eating, hanging out and watching TV. Sure, there may a walk, a hike or a workout in there. But, in general, it’s food, food and more food.
Just writing this stresses me out. I want to be here for my friends and family for years to come. Overflowing table of food or not, remembering the importance of this Thanksgiving Day is key to maintaining focus an truly enjoying the reason for the day. It’s not about the food. Never has been. Never will be. It’s about the people in our lives who love us, who care about us and who want us here for years to come.
This year, I’m still not sure what I’d going to do for Thanksgiving. I have a huge Turkey already defrosting that no one wants to eat. I just came back from a terrific vacation and don’t feel like going to the store. I am grateful that I have the choice not to make a feast if I so choose. And I’m grateful that I have the willpower (even if it is weak some times) to say not to foods I really don’t want or know I really shouldn’t have.
We all look forward to Thanksgiving to be around people we love and care about, to be thankful for the many gifts we have been given so far this year. If the day was more about the people and less about the food, would it stress you out as much?
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