Monday, November 30, 2009


I took my son to a doctor's appointment this morning, and as we were waiting for his turn, another patient's mother asked a staff member is she had a nice Thanksgiving. "Yes," she replied, "I spent it with my family who was in from out of town. How was your Thanksgiving?" Without hesitating, the mom answered, "It was too fattening." She went on to express her guilt at eating so many rich foods, and the conversation about overeating and weight continued from there, a lament we're all familiar with.

I couldn't help but think how sad that was - to focus on the calories of the meal rather than the joy of the season. Whether you're with family, friends, or even by yourself, it seems to me that Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to connect with others, express or feel gratitude for what we do have, spend a day relaxing without having to go to work (for many of us), and to take joy in the abundance of delicious food that is often present at gatherings.

This year, I had Thanksgiving at my house and took great pleasure in preparing the meal: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, carrots, broccoli casserole, salad, cranberry sauce and four different types of pies. Ellen and her family were in town for the occasion, and as we were cleaning up after our feast, I commented to Ellen that I had clearly bought too much food, and now there were tons of leftovers.

Ellen responded, "That's what we get for raising attuned eaters!"

She's right about that. Our children eat exactly what they are hungry for - no more and no less. No complaints about being too full - just comments like "I might have some more of that pie later."

But the truth is that even attuned eaters eat more than they need sometimes - and Thanksgiving may be one of those times. So what? It's just food. You get too full, realize you're uncomfortable, and eventually stop. The issue isn't so much about whether you overeat, but how you respond. If you're staying connected to yourself, you gently remind yourself that it doesn't feel so great to eat too much, and then wait for your next cue of hunger to eat again. But if you're still caught in the diet/binge cycle, you either continue to overeat since you've "blown it" anyway, or you go into a restrictive mode that you cannot sustain. And sadly, you focus on you eating and weight as the way to assess the quality of your holiday.

I'm grateful to have experienced a lovely and satisfying Thanksgiving last week. And all of those leftovers that I was complaining to Ellen about have made for some delicious lunches and snacks. In fact, a slice of that leftover pumpkin pie is sounding pretty yummy right now!

Eat well! Live well! Be well!



Debbie Gross, LCSW said...

I was out with a group of women the other night, and two of them were discussing their latest dieting attempts. We were out for a fun happy hour, where appetizers were half price. One woman commented how she was careful all day because she knew she wanted some wine, and wine had calories. The other had watched heself ALL WEEK because she knew we were going to have food. I thought, this is not what non-dieters talk about when they're out! All they could do was talk about food and points and weight! One woman even shared that her cousin just lost 100 lbs - for the third time! So I worked the conversation around how their jobs were, what the latest movie they saw was, and how their holiday shopping was coming! Finally, they relaxed and were smiling!!! Thanks for your advice through the years Judith and Ellen!

Diet Survivors Group said...

You are welcome! Just think of all the interesting conversations we women can have...glad to hear you were able to change the direction of your conversation.