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November 2010 • Family Meals Focus #51 • Holiday Eating Success Story
This story comes from ESI Consultant Pam Estes, with permission from one of her How to Eat graduates, a recovering chronic dieter and recovering chronic overeater. To read about How to Eat, see Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family.1
Our Thanksgiving tradition consists of a trek to a wonderful smorgasbord restaurant. In past years, I would skip breakfast and arrive famished. To “get my money’s worth” I would skip the salad bar (even though I love salad) and go right to the hot foods. I would get a little of everything – and more than a little of my favorites – and make a return trip for more of my favorites, even though I was already stuffed. I would finish off with about three deserts. The trip home was miserable, and I still never felt like I really “got my money’s worth!”
This year, I approached Thanksgiving with quite a different plan. The night before, I mulled over the choices of all the wonderful foods that are usually offered. Then I made a list of my personal favorites. I was clear with myself that once I got there I could add or subtract from this list if I wanted. No pressure! I also decided that instead of concentrating on “getting my money’s worth” I would get what I wanted. Period. What I actually wanted was the salad bar I had denied myself in past years.
When we arrived, I hit the salad bar first. I lingered over the salads, they were so yummy. As I ate, I realized my husband and boys were on their second plates of hot food! No problem – this is not an eating contest. If it was, I had already lost! With my hunger somewhat satisfied, but still anticipating what was next, I made my choices for the rest of my meal. It was easy for me to skip the mashed potatoes and have extra chicken livers. Yum. I did not worry about eating everything I had on my plate. I realized about half-way through my hot food that I couldn’t eat it all, and if I did, I wouldn’t have room for deserts – which I really wanted. So I stopped!
Desserts at this restaurant are special. All the favorites are there – pecan pie, bread pudding, cheesecake, ice-cream, chocolate cake – whew! Most things are already sliced and on plates, and their portions are very small. This works out just great, because I can have more than one without getting too full. And I did have more than one – three to be exact! Bread pudding, peppermint ice cream and cheesecake.
Was I full on the way home? Yes. Was I miserable? No! But the best part was that I had what I wanted, and enjoyed it all!
I cook on Christmas, so I have more control over what is served. I won’t alter my menu very much, since I am really cooking for my family, and want to prepare their favorites. So far I have noticed that I can keep ingredients for cookies in the house without eating them up before I make the cookies – chocolate chips, etc. This is a big change from years past. It is comforting just knowing they are there, and that I can have them if I want them. I will approach Christmas dinner the same way as Thanksgiving. I will have what I want, enjoy my favorites first, and then go from there! Happy eating!
1. Satter, E.M., Chapter 4, Eat as Much as You Want, in Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook. 2008, Kelcy Press: Madison, WI. p. 27-43. Copyright © 2010 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.
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