Thanksgiving 2017 – when I wished I had two stomachs

Our Thanksgiving took place at a buffet.  For Walla Walla locals, The Marc restaurant puts on a glorious spread of delicious food.  But we’ve also enjoyed Thanksgiving at The Wildhorse in years past.  For at least three Thanksgivings we’ve opted to go out to eat.  

 You see there’s something about Thanksgiving that doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving when it’s “just” our family of four.  There’s nothing “just” about our family of four.  But there’s something about having a huge table of extended family that has always made the celebration feel full and “right” for me.  

 I cook most days of the week and we eat together at least one meal a day.  So cooking more food to eat together for some reason just doesn’t feel attractive or festive.  It feels like more labor.  And as I write it out, I feel a little guilt over this.  

 Of course my family is worth it.  But...but...I do cook/meal prep 7 days a week.   I want a break for my Thanksgiving.  I want to feel a burden lifted while enjoying delicious food during a Holiday, rather than just an intensified day of food prep.  I have a strong aversion toward potential Holiday stress.  Some people dive in and plow through it and I see that and run the other way.

 Can anyone relate?   

But this year I decided might be my last Thanksgiving going out to eat, at least for a while.  

As good as the buffet was, as lovely as the myriad of options were, it feels like a short-lived pleasure.  It also makes Thanksgiving feel like it’s only about a meal.  That and next-day no-leftovers blues.  So while others are enjoying Turkey-everything for the rest of the weekend, I’ve gotta make something brand new the next day.

Also, normally,I have no deep desire to get “my money’s worth” at buffets.  I don’t leave feeling stuffed or regretful.  But I found myself conflicted during our T-day dinner when I saw the bill.  I wanted to get my money’s worth, I wanted to feel like I had a huge, satisfying meal.  And the thing is I did.  But there was still a part of me that wanted to eat everything...twice.  It wasn’t a feeling of rebellion as there is nothing to rebel against.  

The fact that I rarely overeat at buffets and didn’t do so at Thanksgiving comes back to the very thing I teach clients.  When you spend the other 360-some days of the year eating more-or-less intuitively, trusting your body, with permission to enjoy delicious food, a buffet is just another meal.  

And this was another meal.  I ate what and as much as sounded and felt good.  And as much as my brain felt pressure to “get my money’s worth” and as much as I was sad thinking about how I couldn’t take it home for leftovers, the fact was I ate all that I actually wanted.  I was satisfied.  And I didn’t even have any “mouth” hunger lingering.  In fact, eating more had zero appeal because I was full and satisfied.  Would going back for extras beyond what I already had eaten have been wrong or harmful?  No, not at all.  But it would not have been at all enjoyable so what would have been the point?  

Instead I chose to sit with that slight discomfort of wishing I had a second hungry stomach and moved on.

Sometimes I think there is sadness in realizing you’ve reached satisfaction and both your stomach and mouth is satisfied.  You’ve plateaued.  More food will do nothing to increase your pleasure or happiness.  Because sometimes it would be nice if it did.  Whether to feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth or for some other unrelated reason.  

It’s hard to sit with sadness or other unpleasant emotion, goodness I don’t always do it well.  But often if you can tolerate that feeling, ride that wave, you’ll do fine on the other side and perhaps what you learn or the solution you come up with outside of that moment will be better.  Better than the knee-jerk reaction to discomfort.  Maybe.  Worth a try.

I think next year if we don’t team up with friends or travel to extended family, I will cook.  I’ll keep it simple, but we’ll hang out at home, without pressure to eat everything in a 60 minute span.  And have leftovers to lean on for a few days.  

If you find navigating Holiday eating stressful or otherwise difficult, check out this amazing collaboration with 30+ RDs and food therapists.  It's a short ebook FULL of the best tips for making eating stressfree: ​Ultimate Guide to Guilt-Free Holiday Eating 

Posted by Adina
November 27, 2017