Overeating at the Holidays
By Clare Herlihy
I had a giant slab of turkey at Thanksgiving. I’m talking massive- it was approximately the size of my keyboard. I surrounded it lovingly with a scoop of mashed potatoes, some greens, and threw in a few rolls for insulation. My carbohydrate sundae was not complete, however, until I drizzled it with a generous serving of my grandmother’s mysteriously delicious gravy. I was lucky my plate didn’t buckle before I reached the dining room table.
Overeating is practically a sport in my family. Holidays are like the Olympics of food consumption; we have prizes for Mashed Potato Mountain Munch, the Stuffing Stuff, and of course, the Pie Plow. Gold medalists get prime parking on the couch after dinner.
When I used to have a metabolism, this style of competition wasn’t so much of a problem. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it went on a permanent vacation and so now I have to watch how much I eat at family gatherings. Obviously I slip up from time to time, but I have found a few things that tend to keep me fitting into my jeans, so I thought I’d share.
This year I decided that I would eat practically nothing all day and save up room for a gigantic dinner. A bowl of Rice Krispies…nothing more. By the time 5 PM rolled around, the logs in the fireplace were starting to look good. Apparently this is mistake number one. I woke up from my tryphophan-induced nap two hours after dinner, pillow marks on my cheek. Not an attractive sight.
Another dangerous area of holiday spreads is the appetizer gauntlet. Creamy, cheesy, buttery little dips, spreads and crackers are lined up one after another. Healthy vegetables surround…what else? Ranch dip. My tendency of course, is to park myself in front of the cheese ball and slather it onto Ritz crackers as I gab away to my dear Auntie Sue.
In an ideal world, however, I would actually take note of what I was eating by putting it onto a plate. Of course, the only things that would make it onto that plate would be whole grain crackers, steamed shrimp, veggies, and maybe one Christmas cookie. I also wouldn’t have to talk to my Aunt Sue.
My last piece of advice comes from an incident at Christmas a few years ago. We had three different kinds of meat: sausage, turkey, and ham, all prepared by different matriarchal figures in the family. If Auntie says you have to try her turkey, but you’ve already eaten Grandma’s ham and Mom’s sausage, feel free to say no, thanks I’m already full.
Do not get caught in the middle of a food war– but if you do, be armed with a ready response. Remember: Pressure from relatives is directly proportional to the relative pressure of the walls of your stomach. My inability to say no left me immobile for most of the afternoon. Choose wisely.
If you’re really determined to overeat this holiday season…then at least take comfort in the fact that you won’t be eating when you get back to school. Caf food isn’t getting any better.
© Clare Herlihy