Thankful on Thanksgiving: a Healthy View of Food Is Bringing Us Together - Mercy Medical Center

Thankful on Thanksgiving: a Healthy View of Food Is Bringing Us Together

Posted on: December 13, 2013

It’s great to be back at blogging after a busy time. I have some good news and some great news! Plus, I will share about many things I am deeply thankful for this holiday season, and many of them relate to a healthier relationship with food.

In Love with a Cheetoh

So, let’s start with the good news. In my last blog I talked about the kitten we rescued and named Pumpkin. He has had his feline leukemia test (negative), his second round of shots and is now free to move about the house! My man cave is mine again!

I have a short reprieve before the next kitten arrives. Yes, you heard right, another one. Before Pumpkin arrived, we already had two cats; we used to have three.  Our oldest passed away last year, and in July of this year we decided to try our first purebred cat.  We have had several cats over the years, and all were rescued from shelters. After being subjected to every episode of Cats101 on Animal Planet by my daughter, we all found the Cheetoh breed intriguing. Cheetohs are bred to have the physical characteristics of wilder cat breeds but to have the demeanor of a lap cat. Basically, they look like a 24-pound wild cat but act like Forrest Gump. The whole family saved money for months, put a deposit in with the breeder and finally, in October, our litter arrived.  We picked out the kitten we wanted, named him Archer and will be able to take him home right after Christmas.

So, with Pumpkin and Archer, we will have four cats very soon. I imagine I am going to have to help more with litter and feeding (and playing and brushing), but that’s okay. My new fitter, smaller self should be able to adapt. When the new kitten arrives, he will have to spend some time in my man cave until we get him fully acclimated and introduced to the rest of the cats.

Preparing a Thanksgiving Meal with Love

So, that was the good news. How about some great news? I did it! I made it through Thanksgiving! It was a great success, and I even did my regular amount of holiday cooking. As usual, instead of eating, I occupied myself with a day packed with cooking. 

In the morning I got up and went out to get a paper. I allowed myself a gorgeously hot and strong cup of coffee. I cooked a huge breakfast for my family, and when I was done I had an OPTIFAST bar while I read the paper.

Then, I was busy getting a chocolate and banana pie ready for the evening’s dessert.  This went quickly, and thanks to my wife and daughter, I wasn’t tempted to lick any utensils. I should say that more specifically, they helped by snatching up the utensils and bowls and licking them for me. Oh well! I didn’t need a taste anyway.

I spent some time with my kids, spent some time with my friends playing Battlefield 4 on my Xbox, and then began mentally arming myself for the afternoon.

I began by peeling regular potatoes for mashed potatoes. Around the time I finished, I got a call from my parents.  They are pretty much free spirits these days and usually happily crash around Northeast Ohio looking for interesting things to do on the holidays. I always make sure they know they have an open invitation to come to dinner, and they decided to take me up on it! Luckily, I had enough food for all of us.  In order to cover that, I had to start peeling yams (a.k.a., sweet potatoes), also. (Technically, sweet potatoes are more yellow and taste like squash, but let’s not squabble over food.)

Once all of these were going, I needed to work on stuffing, green bean casserole, corn, rolls, setting the table, and everything else that has to happen in a mad rush of clanging, banging, and general fumbling about of kitchen utensils.

As an aside here, I have to tell you that just before Thanksgiving, my mother gave me the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. You see, my daughter and I are addicted to the infomercial on TV.  We can’t get enough of it, and we absolutely relish torturing my wife by reciting it all the time. She and I go back and forth quoting the lines of the two hosts with such emotion that my wife will leave the room in frustration.My mother got this gift for me because she thought my daughter and I would get a kick out of it. I could not, in good conscience, use it for Thanksgiving.

My wife, bless her heart, will respond with love and affection when I cook her favorite things. She would not respond well to a deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving. In addition, I don’t think I could withstand the incredible awesomeness that is deep fried turkey. I would fail epically at staying on my diet. So, I went with my usual (and healthier) recipe for the holiday.
I did two turkey breast roasts with a homemade savory maple glaze. I lovingly prepare and baste these two bundles of joy throughout my cooking afternoon with a care I normally reserve for my children. In fact, if you look at the picture, you can see I was taking this one’s temperature to make sure it doesn’t have a cold.

By the time my parents arrived, I was in full-on frantic cooking. As anyone who has done this knows, near the end of preparing a huge meal you enter what should be categorized as a physically demanding and mentally challenging Olympic sport.

Take out the turkey to rest. Mash the potatoes (both regular and sweet).  Test. Add heavy cream, salt and butter to one and brown sugar, maple, butter and cinnamon to the other. Test, mash, mix. Don’t forget the gravy, stir the casserole and add onions. Did you forget to tent the turkey? The stuffing can go to the table. Where did I put the cranberry sauce? Where did this spoon come from? Dang it! I forgot to take the rolls out!

Eventually, everything got to the table. I sliced the turkey, and I was able to sit. I am not kidding, sweat was pouring off me, and I felt more exhausted than a regular workout session. Everybody began to dig in (after Mom did us the honor of saying the prayer), and I treated myself to a slice of turkey and some vegetables.  I am allowed five ounces of lean protein and some vegetables now, so I wasn’t even cheating!  Granted, it wasn’t how I usually would have liked to indulge on the holiday, but it felt like an indulgence nonetheless.

Grateful for Weight Loss, Healthier View of Food

As my family and my parents laughed, reminisced, shared, and loved around the table, I was overcome with gratitude.

At my heaviest, there was so much I couldn’t do. Food was something that, little by little, kept me apart from the people I love.  Now, food was bringing us together. I guess it has always been that way. We have meetings over meals, and we gather as families over meals. We lay out huge amounts of food on the holidays and invite huge amounts of people. Sharing food is a great way to share love.

I feel like I am slowly pulling food away from being used too much. I am bringing it back into the range of healthy and happy. Lately, I have sort of hit a plateau with my weight loss and it has been discouraging. I have been vilifying food in my mind and my fear of Thanksgiving was very real. But here I was surrounded by loved ones, sharing smiles, laughter and food.

I was so thankful for this day. I am thankful for my ability to cook. I am thankful I have some loving, caring, and professional people at Mercy Weight Management that are helping me through this. I am thankful I can afford a personal trainer and a counselor to help me through my weight loss. I am thankful for my family, my parents, and all the people that support me in my efforts.

I am even thankful for that Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. Hopefully, I will get to use it soon because it not only fries, but also steams and boils. Those are features I can use on my continued weight-loss journey.

Losing weight can sometimes be a long and challenging process. At Mercy Weight Management, we’re here for Eric Buwala and for you. If you live in the Canton, Ohio area and need help losing weight for better health, contact us.

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