Considering the fact that Thanksgiving has morphed from a day devoted to reflection on everything we’re grateful for to a non-stop binge fest featuring as much butter and poultry possible, it tends not to be the easiest day for those of us with a history of an eating disorder. In the past, I dealt with the angst by spending time in faraway, exotic locales like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, getting mud wraps, lying out and eating pineapple on the beach.
Nowadays, though, the holiday doesn’t pose nearly as large of an emotional threat to me and this year, Dan and I are headed to the white, sandy beaches of Lincolnshire, Illinois, where I’ll be preparing a heart attack-friendly apple crisp to cap off a meal of turkey, asparagus, sweet potatoes whipped with banana and honey, and cornbread stuffing – all prepared with liberal amounts of Promise Trans fat-free spread.
The way I see it, we can either live in fear of a holiday whose mascot is a giant turkey, or we can roll with the punches and laugh in that jabbering bird’s face. To this end, clinical psychologist Leslie Landis, author of The Art of Overeating, concocted a list of snarkily helpful tips for dealing with the largest binge-eating holiday in America, including “Eat everything. Remember, food is love. The person who made it cares about you a lot, so don't disappoint them with taking home leftovers. “ And in yesterday’s New York Times article about family Thanksgiving torment, Tara Parker-Pope introduced the world to a fun, do-it-yourself Bingo game idea invented by a Boston high school teacher named Betty, who has long struggled over food with her mother-in-law. To cope, she and a cousin (who also dreads the Thanksgiving day food drama) created a game where each made her own Bingo cards, but instead of numbers, they fill in the squares with various negative phrases they anticipate hearing throughout the meal. Samples include “That outfit is interesting” or “Your children won’t sit still.” As soon as each woman hears the comment spoken aloud, she secretly marks the corresponding Bingo box. “Whoever fills up a bingo row first,” Betsy says, “sneaks off to call the other and say, ‘Bingo!’ ” OK, can I just say how much I adore this idea? I’m actually quite lucky in that my family doesn’t make stupid comments about clothing, body weight or children – indeed, they never have – but I’m still familiar with the sort of idiotic questioning that friends’ loved ones have been known to indulge in. In their honor, I hereby suggest you partner up with a friend and create your own Family Bitching Bingo card. Tailor it to your own Aunt Susan or Grandpa Bill, of course, but here are some suggestions to help you get started:
1) So, I hear you’re a blogger. What does that mean?
2) When are you two kids finally going to make your Mom and Dad grandparents?
3) Can you tell me, why do people Twitter? Do they think we all care what they bought at Target?
4) Thank goodness you’re finished with that stupid vegetarian diet. If animals weren’t meant to be eaten, God wouldn’t have created cows!
5) I tried watching that show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I don’t get why it’s so popular. All he does is whine.
6) Your plate is empty. Let me get you some more potatoes.
7) Are you SURE you want a second helping of potatoes? (Eyes scan body up and down)
8) So, did you hear who’s dying of cancer?
9) That’s an interesting outfit.
10) When’s your next book coming out? (Writers out there – am I right or am I right?!)
11) Are you dating anyone right now? Because I know a lovely young man – it’s Sylvia Goldstein’s grandson. He’s a very successful accountant, quite handsome and looking for some nice company.
12) I Friended you on Facebook but never heard back from you. Did you get my request? (Only counts if the person saying it is more than 25 years older that you.)
13) Why do you wear so much makeup? We want to see your beautiful face. (Double points if this is followed by the speaker licking her thumb and attempting to wipe away said makeup.)
PS Check out my article and slideshow on NeverSayDiet about Downward Dogging your way through passive-aggressive child competitiveness and post-pie bloat.