This year, it’s okay to go ham on the Honeybaked Ham

Are you stressed out this Thanksgiving?

It’s pretty ironic, if you think about it. The one holiday designed to celebrate having plenty, and it evokes more anxiety and trepidation than gratitude and peace.

Because you’re afraid of having too much.

You spend all year trying to “eat healthy” — choosing a salad from that overwhelming menu at The Cheesecake Factory, when you’d prefer a plate of spaghetti; buying low-calorie (read: cardboard) cracker things that aren’t real crackers; forcing yourself to buy three pints of Halo Top when you’re actually craving Ben and Jerry’s.

And then when the holidays roll around, it’s panic time.

You’ve restrained yourself for 11 months. You’ve sacrificed a lot to stay on the straight and narrow.

The last thing you want to do is go ham on the Honeybaked Ham sitting on the counter in all its basted glory, but you know it’s going to happen.

And after the ham, there will be turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, Pinot Grigio…

So. Much. Food.

Everywhere.

You need all of it.

Looks like your self-control went on vacation, too.

The Hangover

You pass out on the couch, drugged with wine and tryptophan.

And when you wake up, it hits you.

But the splitting headache isn’t anything compared to your puffy belly, your aching mind as you remember how many calories you plowed through.

Minutes to eat them; days to burn them off.

A misty cloud follows you around the rest of the day — not quite thick enough to ruin your festive spirit, but just enough of a reminder that you indulged.

A socially-acceptable indulgence, sure, but you’ll be left with the aftermath alone. You’re going to gain five pounds.

You should hate yourself.

Eh, it’s only once a year. I’ll go back to celery and rice cakes on Monday.

But that doesn’t really soothe you, does it?

As you’re preparing yourself to get extreme, to hop back on that straight and narrow — to undo that rich, warm, happy meal — you’re zapping away half the day’s enjoyment.

This Year Can Be Different

You’re not alone.I’ve been there too.

I spent years trapped in that monster cycle of starving, bingeing, starving, bingeing.

I felt like it would never end.

But this Thanksgiving, I’m not worried about having too much.

I’m excited — not petrified — at the prospect of having plenty.

How in the world did I escape from that prison?

By having plenty every other day of the year.

I plan what I eat, but I don’t deprive myself. I never feel like I’m starving.

I order the spaghetti at The Cheesecake Factory if that’s what I feel like eating. I eat full-fat Cheez-Its, Halo Top, and Ben and Jerry’s.

I don’t get cravings so powerful that when I get my hands on the item, I eat the whole package.

So when Thanksgiving comes around and the house is filled with a hundred aromas, I don’t feel out of control.

I can enjoy having plenty, sans guilt, because I know there’s only two things different about this day — everything is cooked in butter, and I’m surrounded by some of the people I love most.

And that’s what I’m truly grateful for.

Let’s Rewire Our Brains

If I, of all people, can overcome fifteen years of disordered eating and transform my attitude towards Thanksgiving dinner, you can too.

I promise.

And it starts today.

Go enjoy your Honeybaked Ham.

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