How Not to Have a Gut-Busting Holiday… I Think

Two things:

1. I’ve been trying to maintain a weight loss for the last six months.

2. I adore holiday food.

I am a moderator, not an abstainer. Some people need to swear off sugar/meat/gluten in order to be healthy. That’s not my path; I just try to eat less. In the next month, there will be pralines made from my mother’s recipe. Coffee cake from the Cafe Beaujolais cookbook. Gingerbread cookies from Cooks Illustrated. Etc. So what’s a weight-conscious gal to do at Thanksgiving and Christmas?

I may have stumbled upon a bit of wisdom this weekend, and it was thanks to a tardy pecan pie.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but it’s tough. I love the side dishes, and I want to sample everything. But I hate that “I’m gonna pop” feeling. Besides, it doesn’t feel very mindful or grateful to eat the way I often have on Thanksgiving. (I know others who love the sense of overindulgence, of throwing moderation to the winds. Eh. Your mileage may vary.)

We were hosting friends with little kids on Thursday, so we didn’t get fancy with the feast. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, storebought rolls, pumpkin pie. Fruit salad and cheese and crackers for the little ones. That’s a banquet by most of the world’s standards, but it’s a pretty low-key Thanksgiving meal for us.

And I’ll admit it: I missed the sweet potatoes. And the dressing. And some kind—any kind!—of casserole.

Meanwhile, I’d found out on Wednesday that the pecan pie my brother was sending me from Texas (I won a bet) wouldn’t arrive until Friday. I pouted for a few moments, then realized it gave me a perfect excuse to make one of those beloved side dishes I’d been missing. So on Friday I made a sweet potato dish, which we ate with our leftovers… and pecan pie for dessert, of course.

The success of Thanksgiving Part II made me wonder how long I could keep Thanksgiving going. I love a good squash casserole, so we roasted two acorn squash over the weekend which I will use to make this offbeat carbarrific beauty.

So here’s what I’m wondering. Instead of blowing the wad on a single gut-busting meal, why not make the feast last for a few days? Why not celebrate that thing you love to eat by making it the centerpiece of the meal?

That way each dish can be truly savored and enjoyed on its own terms, not relegated to a teeny corner of your plate. Remember, one of my approaches to weight maintenance is to “make friends with food.”

Now, will this approach keep the pounds off? Who knows? I just think it’s more satisfying (and I suspect, maybe healthier?) than a day of binging followed by several days of guilt and austerity.

So far so good with the bathroom scale. I sure felt better on Thursday evening. And I’ve had a ball each day since then, wondering “What can I make today to keep Thanksgiving going?” That’s a spiritual question in addition to a culinary one.

Would love to hear your tips for getting through the holidays without digging out your fat pants…

8 thoughts on “How Not to Have a Gut-Busting Holiday… I Think

  1. RevKel

    I agree with you on the moderation verses abstaining. Congratulations on your journey with health and weight loss. You really are an inspiration to many of us. And spreading out the meals and dishes is a great idea. Our problem is that our master chef has gone to Toronto to begin his Disney training! Alas! The acorn squash dish looks absolutely yummy. Will save it for Darren when he comes home at Christmas. Part of what worked for us this Thanksgiving was the fact that Darren cooked delicious food that was healthier for us but felt very gourmet (acorn squash stuffed with couscous, turkey breast stuffed with Kale and sausage, salmon mousse, fresh cranberries, shrimp and pumpkin bruschetta). Enjoy the holiday season. Remembering our indulgence on the apple churros at CREDO and smiling.

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  2. Robert Braxton

    excellent:
    “minor prophet” Bible study at church this Sunday concluded, Malachi (“the messenger”) and the class read each chapter (one reader each) aloud before further discussion. Something I noticed (not discussed) is the command to “eat” the tithe. I knew all about “bring ye” but had never noticed “eat.” Neither did I realize this command is from Deuteronomy (good ol’ reign of child king Josiah).
    ‘eat the tithe Deut. 14:23’
    more about
    love sharing
    knew food is
    So with Thanksgiving – this is the Table of the Lord where we sit (and eat) with deep gratitude.

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  3. susann

    I sort of did that myself-unintentionally. I had thanksgiving with some friends. Afterward, I missed some of my favorites, and ended up making one of them on Saturday, along with a small turkey breast. I’m making another favorite tonight, to go with leftover turkey. It spreads it out…

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  4. Jo Ann Staebler

    What a great idea! We do a version of it at Christmas, stemming from a year when I was in grad school. Came home for Christmas, which was on a Sunday so my father had Monday off. Since there was worship Christmas morning, we decided to do the feast on Monday. It was wonderful–so much more relaxed and my mother didn’t have to be coaxed from the kitchen for the gift opening. We perfected it with our kids: Christmas morning breakfast is a fresh fruit salad (made the day before) and home-made muffins (dry ingr mixed day before). Then a grazing spread is laid out on the table: whole grain breads and crackers, gourmet cheeses, and smoked salmon, along with the fruit salad remains and Christmas cookies; mulled cider is on the stove or in slow cooker. People eat when they want to. The 26th is feast day, and everyone helps prepare, serve, and clean up.

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  5. Jules

    Well, I’m one of those abstainers you write about. I have lost 27 pounds in 11 weeks by staying away from animal products, gluten, sugar, caffeine. It works for me. But my strategy for T-giving was to take a…wait for it…Sabbath…from all of that on Thursday and eat a moderate amount of things I really liked. Since I have avoided things that are (for me) not very healthy, my tastes have changed pretty dramatically and I didn’t have to really eat much of them to get the gist. I may do the same thing for Christmas, or maybe I won’t. We’ll see what the body wants a month from now.

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