Friday, October 31, 2008

The beginning of the binge

For me in the past, in terms of fitness and wellness, and for many people, Halloween starts what I call the "holiday binge season". It's insidious and starts when we're kids. You go out, do your rounds and get several pounds of candy. If you're good like I was, you hit all the hot spots and travel far and wide and end up with maybe 5 pounds or more!

This starts a month long sugar orgy in preparation for ... the next big eating event, Thanksgiving!

Ahh ... Thanksgiving. It just so happens it's around my birthday so it's a day I always cherished. For good reason too - lots of family around. But also for the food of course! So I had a birthday cake coming, to top off the last of the Halloween candy. Then sometimes that very day, there was a built in feast of feasts - the binge eaters holiday, Thanksgiving! Turkey, gravy, butter, rolls, stuffing. Oh yea there are vegetables too but got to have the sugary cranberry sauce. And at our house, after the extra pan of stuffing was mostly gone and I dipped a few rolls (white usually, if I was feeling "healthy" I'd use a wheat roll) with butter into the gravy boat. In fact it was more like a harbor, with flotillas of boats and dingys all swimming with a luxurious pool of brown gold gathered around plates which were more like docks. My grandfather made the turkey, stuffed it with spices, oysters, gizzards (didn't know what they were until later ;) and rich brown gravy. Made from bacon and butter basted turkey drippings! In case the bird was dry we didn't want to run out of the rich creamy liquid so he made extra.

An hour or so after the hour long dinner and a nap on the couch watching football were the pies and coffee. Apple, chocolate cream, and my aunt from Alabama's favorite to make - pecan. Pecan was one of my favorite, topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream or the tasty substitute loaded with hydrogenated oil Cool Whip. Another aunt prefers the fake cream and makes pies out of it. Pecan though - how many eggs, at least a dozen and all that corn syrup - wow. Well there are a few nuts in there but they get drowned in bad stuff.

Don't forget around 5 we'd have sandwiches and then leftover cranberry, stuffing and gravy on rolls. Maybe some white mashed potato with gravy and butter.

Then, only a few weeks and a left over meal of turkey or two later - Christmas season! That all starts with Christmas Eve. In our Scandinavian family, this was a great night of meeting 75 or 100 family and friends culminating with presents but starting with many strong drinks of Glog (a highly alcoholic beverage something like mulled wine on steroids) and a pot luck family smorgasbord. The pickled herring (Swedes call sill) and salmon were de-emphasized over time in favor of newer American favorites like lasagna, meatballs (Swedish and Italian), chicken wings and hot dogs in a bourbon sauce. The next day, a full on sitdown meal of roast beef and ham or turkey or both followed by more presents and lounging around with a dehydration headache!

Of course only a week away was New Years Eve, where I learned the alcohol binge side of things ....

So I guess ... the point of all this ... besides being pathetically accurate ;), is that it's no wonder we gain weight this time of year. It's a bad cycle.

I'm not here like Tony (wish I could be like him but I'm too empathetic I think) to tell you to give up everything and live a monastic life of no fat no alcohol no fun.

But I'm just making the point to cut yourself, your liver and your heart a break this holiday. Take just one piece of pie. Have a glass of water. Ditch the gravy and butter and maybe even white rolls. Your moderation in celebration is more relaxing and less taxing. Enjoy family, slow down, appreciate your health and all the gains you've made in fitness.

Take a walk on Thanksgiving or run a turkey trot. Take a break from the buffet table and sing a few Christmas carols. Rediscover some of those healthy ethnic foods like fish. Enjoy your time, don't binge it!

We're here a short time - let's make the best of it! Enjoy your food, enjoy your time and you'll be much happier longer!


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