Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is this week. As many of you know, I don’t participate in Thanksgiving. It is essentially a food holiday. The whole thing revolves around one big meal. You can say it’s about family, or gratitude, but tradition says it’s about turkey and potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Every family has their own traditions, and they are all about the meal.
I made it through my 12th Halloween without sugar and carbohydrates. And it was painless.
It is Christmas Eve, so a Merry Christmas to you.
I don’t love love love Christmas. Though I don’t hate it either. I don’t feel the need to personally avoid it, like Thanksgiving. But I do not identify as a Christian. And I don’t particularly care about the rituals. But I can enjoy it for what it is, and participate, because it is not only about food.
Plus, I really like giving people presents. I’m pretty good at it. And I like the energy of a Christmas party with kids. They get excited to be with each other. They get excited for presents. They feel like it is a special day, and that energy is kind of contagious. (Also, I don’t mind kid noise. My husband is not so comfortable with it.) I like kids. Especially when I get to go home and sleep in my quiet house with my husband and we don’t have to build toys with some assembly required as quietly as possible in the middle of the night so as not to disillusion little people who still believe in magic and wishes.
Also, I, too, still believe in magic and wishes, just not in such a literal, innocent way. But I thought for much of my life that I would never get my eating under control, or live in a body I loved, or like and love myself. So that it happened felt, and still feels, a lot like magic.
Is it work? Of course it is. But I was working before too. I was trying, and dieting, and starving and exercising, and doing whatever I could to stop being fat and food obsessed. And I was terrified that my lot in life was to be miserable. So having my eating under control is a joyous miracle.
So today I will be around a lot of food I don’t eat. But it’s not for me. And that’s ok. I got my joy and my gifts. I keep getting them. They have gotten bigger, and more valuable every day for the past 11 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 1 day.
This holiday I am in it for the people. I am in it for the joy of connecting, and the joy of giving, and maybe even the joy of receiving. And, yes, I will do some very joyful eating. But all of it within my eating boundaries. And that’s not something I need a holiday for anyway.
So Merry Christmas to you! I hope yours is magical too.
You are getting me short and sweet today, since it’s Christmas, and even the grinchiest Scrooge (like myself) has things to do and places to be.
I will say that after not having sugar for nearly 11 years, (8 days until my 11th anniversary) being in places with big spreads of food I don’t eat is not a test of courage, or fortitude. It was once, but not anymore. I don’t crave it. For the most part, I don’t even see it. I know that it’s there, but it doesn’t register. That’s as it should be. It’s not for me.
I understand that for many people, holidays and celebrations are “cheat days.” And if that works for them, then it’s good. It never worked for me. I need rules. Rules saved my life.
So if you are a person who needs rules, and are struggling with food at this time of year, here are a few tips on how to keep your eating under control at holiday parties from someone who has been there.
• Eat before you go. If you have a party to go to and the place will surely be bursting with foods you avoid, don’t go hungry.
• Bring your own food. Who knows what’s in Aunt Marjorie’s special dish, and she’s not talking. So pack up your Tupperware and have your next meal close by. It has always made me feel safe.
• Eat your favorite meals. Don’t make steamed broccoli and boneless, skinless, tasteless chicken breast when everybody around you is having party food ( unless that is your idea of party food. Then go for it!) Having your eating under control is meant to be a blessing, not a punishment.
• Have phone numbers with you of the people who can talk you off of a ledge, or more likely, away from the dessert table. I know the numbers are programmed into your phone, but your phone is a delicate machine. Write them down. On paper.
• Don’t hang around the food. Don’t stand by it. Don’t purposely go smell it. If someone is talking to you around it, ask if they mind moving, or excuse yourself. You may or may not be strong, but even if you are, you don’t need to prove it.
• Have an exit strategy. Drive yourself, take public transportation, or bring money for a cab. Don’t be entirely dependent on someone else to get you out of there. And remember it’s okay to leave. Take care of yourself first. I know it’s the season of giving, but charity begins at home.
That’s it for me today. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Joyous Festivus. Happy Solstice. Or whatever it is that you celebrate, I hope it is a peaceful and happy one.
Christmas is over and the one holiday left is my second favorite time of the year. So I’m feeling pretty good right about now. Plus, I got some pretty awesome presents. I am writing this blog on my new MacBook. (Look who’s fancy!)
I made it through the food holidays with my eating boundaries in tact. That makes 8 Thanksgiving/Christmas Seasons in a row. But for most of them, I did not do much, if any, celebrating. This will be the second year in a row that I have lived in the town I grew up in, close to family.
When I lived in New York, I didn’t fly back to my hometown this time of year. I might have met friends for a bit in the evening. Exchanged gifts. Called family. But for the most part, I happily spent my days alone.
And now I live with my boyfriend. Just a short drive from both his family and my own.
But I want to note that, except for breakfast at my mom’s (with explicit instructions from me about what kind of bacon to buy and how big of an apple I wanted), I kept my boundaries around my eating by not eating with everybody else. I ate at home before or after the parties. I packed my meals in tupperware and brought them with me just in case.
And I didn’t really think twice about it. It was easy. I didn’t have to be around the foods I don’t eat. I didn’t have to look at cake and pie and cookies. I colored with the kids, or talked with family. I got to do the social part without having to deal with eating.
I am so grateful for the way that I eat now. I make sure I eat delicious food every day. Not just on holidays. And I don’t ever have to feel disgusted or ashamed anymore. I am not sorry that there was no candy for me. I am not sorry there were no chips and dip for me.
The truth is that since I put boundaries around my eating, I am not sorry at all about food anymore. Ever.
Now that my friends, is a Christmas miracle!
And that is Thanksgiving done. Phew.
As you may know, it is my least favorite day of the year. I had ignored it, considered it just another Thursday, for a long time.
This year we went to my boyfriend’s family’s home for dinner, and my Mom’s for dessert. (Of course I did not partake of dessert.)
It was fine. It was even nice. Or at least there were some really nice moments. But it’s so much. It’s so much food. It’s so much noise. It’s so much heightened emotion.
I have said before that I am not afraid of food. I don’t worry about eating things I’m committed to not eating. But it is not always comfortable. It can sometimes be a matter of holding my thoughts in check. And that can be exhausting. Especially when I am out of my element.
And also especially on Thanksgiving. Because the traditional mode of celebration is eating. To not eat can somehow feel like I’m saying, “screw you, tradition. And screw you too, America.” To go to Thanksgiving celebrations and not eat sugar and carbs, and not over eat, and not do anything “special” is, without a doubt, to set yourself apart. It is to show up at a party and then…not party. It can feel like being the party-pooper. Which is why I used to just treat it as another day. It’s easier that way.
Of course I DO NOT WANT to eat sugar. I do not want to over eat. I am not telling you all of this because I want an excuse to “live a little.” I do not want any excuses. I love my boundaries. Seriously, getting my eating under control is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. And I am not interested in giving that up for a feeling of inclusion. Or normalcy. I am telling you this because I have made a choice. The choice to participate in this tradition on my own terms. For my boyfriend, mostly. Because it’s important to him to do his family traditions. And I love him.
But my food always has to be on my terms. Always. Period.
Look, people know. My boyfriend’s family is totally supportive. My family is totally supportive. I’m not saying that anyone was pressuring me. It is having to protect myself from the “Great American Institution” that is Turkey Day that is exhausting.
But it’s only one day a year. And nobody said I had to love it. I just have to get through it. And I don’t have to worry about that for another year.
Another Halloween over. Of course, Halloween kicks off our collective debauched food binge that lasts through the extreme hangover that is New Years Day. The day we firmly resolve that this year we will be better. We will lose weight and drink more water and less alcohol and stop yelling at our kids and be better listeners.
I am so grateful that I don’t have to play that game anymore. Of course, at this particular moment I am most grateful that I did not have to eat compulsively just because it was Halloween. Trick or treat would have been, without a doubt, all trick and no treat.
I handed out the candy this year. Which wasn’t hard, because I don’t crave it since I haven’t had it in my body for over 8 years. And there weren’t many kids since it was so cold, so there is still a whole bunch of candy in the house. But thank God I don’t have to eat it. Thank God it’s not mine. Thank God I don’t have to start, and then be expected to stop. Because I don’t know if I have another stop in me. And I don’t want to find out.
I also love that I still love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love my own creativity. I love the chance to show off how clever I am. I love getting to wear a costume I can feel beautiful in. (I was Miss America this year. Complete with evening gown, tiara, sash and running mascara.) In a body I can feel beautiful in. I love that I don’t have to feel deprived. Of fun. Or chocolate. Because the truth is that I would not have just eaten some chocolate. And I wouldn’t have just eaten all of the chocolate. I would have eaten the things I didn’t want or like. I would have eaten everything that was there. And then I would have gotten more. I would have needed to go get more. I would not have been able to not get more. But instead, I get to still love Halloween because I don’t have to eat myself to shame and self-loathing. I love that I get to wake up with some dignity. Even after the binge-fest that is National Candy Day.
So now it is time to beware the Holiday Season. I may not be in danger, but food is still dangerous to me. Even after all this time. I don’t take it lightly. I protect myself from my eating disorders. By remembering that I am eternally a compulsive eater. Hopeless and without a cure. By making sure that the meals I make myself are delicious and decadent while keeping them within my eating boundaries. By remembering that I am addicted to sugars, grains and starches. By remembering how eating compulsively manifests in my life. On my body in the form of 150 more pounds. And in my personality in the form of lying, cheating and stealing. And in my heart as depression and self-hatred. I remember these things because I want to continue to wake up with dignity.
I may have made it through Halloween, but there is more to come. Pumpkin Pie and Christmas cookies. Mashed potatoes and stuffing. Wine and eggnog. There is little time to take a breath between bites and gulps for the rest of the year. For other people. For me, there is plenty of time. Hours and hours between my three meals a day. To do and be. As long as I keep my head on straight and keep the boundaries around my eating.
So I hope you had a Happy Halloween. And I wish you a peaceful Holiday Season. Because it has already begun.
I got back home from a fantastic trip to NYC, and I’m already gone again to the Chicago suburbs for a wedding.
So yes, there was more food prep and packing for the airport. And there will be lots of getting ready for the celebration. Grooming and dressing as well as even more food prep and packing. Thankfully, I’m going to celebrate love and union, not to eat.
And then after the wedding, welp…it’s the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.
Oh, and Happy Halloween! This year I went as the place where socks go when they disappear from the laundry.
I actually love Halloween, and I always have. And no, it’s not about candy. It’s about dressing up. And it always has been. I was fat. There was always plenty of candy in my life. But Halloween was something else. It was a chance to show off how fun, creative and original I could be. It was a chance to be clever.
Since I had been fat all of my life, I tried very hard to be identified as something else (especially because I self-identified as fat, and hated it). I have always been proud to be clever. So I have never been one to buy prefab costumes. The fun was always finding and making them piece by piece. And I was good at it. I always enjoyed the details.
But the holidays coming up have not historically been my favorites. Thanksgiving and Christmas are not about being clever. They are about food and people. And they are filled with rituals that are specifically designed to raise our emotions to a fevered pitch.
I hate this. I am too susceptible to this already! I live in a state of high emotion. I don’t need winter holidays to touch my heart. My heart is all too easily touched as it is.
I don’t know. Maybe I’ve changed enough that none of it matters anymore. Maybe everybody in the whole world knows that I keep my food boundaries all the time, no matter what, even for Christmas, and maybe they just don’t care. And maybe I have enough peace that I won’t find holiday festivities emotionally exhausting and dangerous for my eating disorders. Who knows anymore. It has been many years since I celebrated either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And my boyfriend and I have agreed to spend Thanksgiving alone on a mini vacation this year. So that’s at least one I don’t have to worry about…And really, I have no idea what to expect. Maybe I will positively love Christmas. (Ok, that’s a stretch, but I’m keeping an open mind…)
I guess I will find out how far I have come by the end of the year. But one thing is for sure, I’m sure not going to leave the whole thing to fate. I am going to prepare. I’m going to protect myself. And never forget that I have eating disorders, and that keeping my eating under control comes first.