I’m definitely on a journey, and one with a big learning curve. Just when I think, “I’ve got this,” one of life’s “suddenly” moments happens, and I’m back to square one.
My relationship with food has been turbulent, at times difficult, and revolutionary. Turbulent because of the health issues that sprang up over the years after eating a diet that was carb, meat and dairy-driven; difficult because of my heritage as an American Italian (food is so much a part of the culture), and revolutionary because of the change I had to commit to once I realized that my eating habits were compromising my health.
Even with all the health challenges I’ve developed over the years, and the knowledge I’ve acquired, I still falter and fumble. It’s astounding to me how taste-influenced I am, and how bound to tradition I am. What am I talking about? The holidays.
Thanksgiving was a serious blow-out. I don’t think there was one ounce of food inhaled (with the exception of lemon water) that I was not allergic to, or that should have been off-limits to me. YET, I not only participated in the feast, I cooked much of the food. It was traditional with a hint of Italian on the side. I made (by request) about a dozen calzones. Granted, I made them as healthy as I could, but still. I even made half of them vegetarian (they were delicious)!
I suppose I shouldn’t be amazed after eating mounds of holiday food, calzones made with regular pizza dough, filled with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and then deep fried that my blood pressure spiked, my gout flared up, and my joints ached. I consumed a day of acid-driven foods.
Why did I do it? Why do we do it?
What is it about the holidays that makes this kind of crazy eating so alluring?
Perhaps it has more to do with people coming together socially than actually the food. I mean, a kitchen is frequently the gathering spot for many a group of people, and the holiday season seems to amplify that reality. Add being Italian into the mix and it’s practically a lost cause — a guaranteed food frenzy. It’s a month and a half eating whirlwind that seems to give everything fattening, rich and grossly unhealthy top billing. Stats show that on average, Americans gain about one to two pounds during the holiday season.
What can one do?
I truly believe that the holidays don’t have to be a weight-gaining nightmare. There are some things you can do to avoid widening your waistline.
For one, you need to make sure you don’t eat more than one helping of anything! Also, don’t skip meals before the event. Skipping meals only sets you up to completely overeat, and don’t skip breakfast– it’s the most important meal of the day. Avoid eating second and third helpings (most people totally bypass this rule). keep your portions small, and eat desserts in moderation. You know, tasting one or two delicacies vs. piling every assortment on a salad plate and then some! Eat more salad than anything else. You can’t go wrong with greens! Lastly, take a walk with family or friends after dinner. Exercise is always a good idea.