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Monday, July 4, 2011

Food & Love, part 1 of 2 (Holidays & Special Occasions)

How do you celebrate holidays & special occasions? How do you express affection or concern. Food, food and food. Am I right? If so, you're by no means alone. I don't have stats to back me up, but I think it's safe to say that American culture is rich with food.

Look at today. Certainly, there are the fireworks. But there's also the food. Hot dogs, hamburgers or BBQ, anyone? Then there's that inevitable sheet cake or giant cookie done up with strawberries & blueberries to look like the flag. There's the bevy of side dishes, from baked beans to potato salad. And so on.


What's a health-conscious patriot to do? I noticed today that a small group can be very helpful in this regard. My husband & daughter & I got together with my parents. After a beach outing, we snacked on watermelon. (And during baby's nap, some peanuts & beer). The main meal was pulled pork sandwiches (with my Magic BBQ sauce), vinegar & oil cole slaw, baked beans & corn on the cob. Dessert was Dutch apple pie a la mode. By no means, a health resort meal. BUT - there weren't 5 other side dishes and 3 other desserts, or 3 different chip'n'dip appetizers.

Have you noticed how people like to contribute? This is nice, social, etc. But, I contend, it contributes to overeating on holidays and special occasions. For some reason, everyone brings enough of their "world-famous [blank]" to feed double the party. And, I at least, feel compelled to try a little of each. Of course, they worked hard on it! Yet, even if I just take a dab of this & a dollop of that, I end up feeling much more full than after a regular meal.

Today, I felt just fine. Granted, the meal was a little larger than usual, but not exponentially so. It was more the content, context & activities that made the day special.

Well, how are you going to make use of this observation? You can't exactly get rid of your extended family! I only accidentally lost mine after finding a job & husband 1400 miles from home! I miss them terribly, and I'm thrilled my parents brought a little more Nebraska down to Florida.

What my mom & I did that you could use, even if you have a large family, is plan. We talked about what we would each make. Since it was her house, she did the main dish & chose a couple sides. I plugged in with one additional side & dessert. 

In my experience, the host of a large family gathering makes enough to feed everyone attending, but then they all bring even more food! So ... if you're the host, consider sending some emails or  making some calls to set up who will make what, ensuring that there won't be such an excess of food. If you aren't the host but feel comfortable talking to him or her, do so!

At this point, most of have certain health goals, and a little support goes a long way. You might be surprised to see your family get behind the idea!

Part 2 of 2 (Food as Love) coming soon!

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