Happy Labor Day everyone!
I wanted to share a story with you about a past Labor Day that was not a happy day in my life. The fact is that I often had a hard time not using the holidays, any holiday, as an excuse to overeat. I know that Labor Day isn’t a holiday typically associated with a certain food, but I made it a holiday all about food.
On this particular Labor Day, which was probably in 1996, my girls were 5 and 2 years old and I weighed over 300 pounds. Our Sunday School class from church had been invited to a Labor Day picnic at a class member’s farm and we were all pretty excited.
There would be bonfires, hayrides, and tables and tables of food. I was tagged to bring some desserts, which was my favorite thing to cook. I made cupcakes and cookies, dressed the girls in matching outfits, and John and I headed to the farm.
Once we got there, the girls found their little friends and played nearby while John and I visited with the grown-ups. I hovered near the food table, just waiting for the “dig in” signal from our host and hostess. On that table was potato salad, hot dogs, chips of all kinds, barbecue chicken, several desserts, baked beans, some fresh veggies (as if), and assorted other side dishes.
Our host finally said the prayer and we started to line up to get our food. I was holding two plates; one for myself and one for my littlest daughter while John handled his plate and my oldest daughter’s plate. Just as I began to get some food, my friend standing behind me said, “So, Diane. How is Weight Watchers going?”
I looked at her and wished that she had stayed home. She just ruined my whole picnic by asking me that question.
I stumbled around with my answer and finally said, “Oh, fine.” I went through the line picking up the healthy foods and leaving all the tasty food on the table. I got a hot dog, which at the time qualified for a healthy food, some of those boring vegetables, and some fruit. No dessert, no chips, nothing fun. All because of those words my friend uttered.
I was so upset that John noticed my bad mood. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked. I told him nothing but inside I was seething because my day was now ruined.
Looking back I realize how disjointed my thinking was. Instead of having fun watching the kids play, visiting with friends, and sitting around the bonfire with our class, all I could think about was the food.
After we left the picnic, I made John stop at Chick-Fil-A and get me some more food. I sullenly ate my sandwich, fries, and drank my coke but cheered up when I finished off the chocolate milkshake. The rest of my family didn’t eat anything because they ate at the picnic and were full. I wasn’t all that hungry, but felt cheated from the picnic.
The whole time I was eating I felt like a complete failure as a dieter and on some level, as a person. But I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
After 15 years of weight maintenance and hundreds of holidays later, I realized that I always looked at holidays in regards to food rather than relationships.
During my weight loss year I deliberately approached holidays without having the focus on food and it helped immensely. I still visited with friends or family, but forced myself to stop hovering around the food table and focus on the people I was with.
It’s still tempting to focus on food at the holidays, but with a gentle reminder to myself, I usually succeed in focusing on relationships.
I’d encourage you to remember that holidays happen all year long whether you are trying to lose weight or not. Learning to handle them is just one part of your journey into a healthier relationship with food forever.
Have you ever found yourself focusing on the food rather than the relationships at holiday times? How do you shift your focus? Diane