Did anyone else overeat last Thursday? A little too much Thanksgiving turkey, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and some sweet potatoes just to try them, and then maybe a little more stuffing just to give the gravy something to rest on, and a piece, or two, of pie, and maybe a brownie?
Hey, sounds good, and why didn’t you invite me? You’d want me as a guest this year, because this holiday season my immodest proposal would be – stuff yourself. Forget about calories and carbs and cholesterol and just – eat.
Because every year around now it’s time for a replay of that mass neurosis known as “The Holiday Eating Season” and I am up to here with it, or I would be up to there if I had any more room on top of the stuffing. I had a little extra time to read up on it because of my self-declared Thanksgiving holiday (sure, it’s a U.S. holiday and only embassy types here in Spain get the day off abroad, but hey, I consider myself just a bundle of ambassadorial good will – every day).
The holiday food madness starts with these clinical, scientific examinations of “How to Cook the Turkey.” It’s a dead bird, folks. Stick it in the oven. It’ll cook. (That said, I did bookmark this one, just because I’m hoping one day we can all get to the bottom of that “to brine or not to brine” debate. Because I’m afraid I just can’t break tradition that much and go with the scary-sounding deep fryer.)
Then you can get as obsessed as you’d like with details of the meal(s): traditional style, tradition-breaking, homey, gourmet, nouveau, low fat, vegetarian, in the style of early human mountain tribes serving a bobcat you’ve brought down with a spear and cooked in a pit. And that’s something to think about for any Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, holiday dinner, lunch, brunch, breakfast, cocktail, open house party you host.
But then comes the real nuts-making part: while we’re all obsessing on food, we’re also supposed to be obsessing on how not to eat it. Because it’s also the time of year for the articles on how we all supposedly gain 19.7 pounds at this time of year. And there’s the standard advice on how to eat an apple and then stick your head under a fire hydrant to suck down enough water before you go to a party so you can just happily nibble on a carrot stick all night.
You can tell who’s the person trying that technique. She’s the one who keeps circling the food table like a shark until by the end of the evening the “Jaws” music is at a fever pitch and she strikes, creating a huge sandwich on her plate with the ends of the wedges from the cheese plate, three scoops of hardening onion dip, the remaining dried-up curls of the honey-baked ham and an olive.
OK, so I like onion dip. Sue me.
What’s also gotten press lately is this book, “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” that tells you about the unconscious signals that make you eat more or less, the idea being that if you just, say, reduce your plate size you’ll eat less without realizing it (it seems to get into better examples than that).
But forbidden fruit and all that, and the more time you spend thinking about what and what not to eat, the harder it is to just relax and eat reasonably. So what about a little less thinking, a little more enjoying? What about forgetting about all the rules and seeing what happens? Want the pie? Have the pie. I’m not saying anyone will lose any weight, but it could make for a fun holiday season. And there’s always a special on gym memberships in January.