Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Thanksgiving 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I spent the day home with the kitty, except for a little trip to Walmart to see if I could nab a fake Christmas tree before things go bananas tomorrow with the Black Friday shoppers.   I went to the dinky little store near my house, which is a really terrible store, and their selection was meh.  If I’m feeling up to it, I may go to the real store later this weekend – or else just be content with a 5′ fake tree I spotted at Home Depot.  I’m allergic to real trees, which is why I bother.

Last week I was able to add fish into my diet, and that went well – tho to be honest, the idea of actually cooking fish just to get a 2 oz serving wasn’t appealing, so I mostly just had tuna, which is soft and comes in little cans perfect for taking into the office.  I’m not in love with plain tuna, though, so looked forward to being able to add chicken this week.  For Thanksgiving I cooked a small chicken in the crockpot, yielding so much meat I wondered why I did a whole chicken instead of just a breast.  Oh well, lots to freeze for future meals.

So far my system is doing well.  It’s been 4 weeks today since my surgery and I had my first fill of 1.5 cc of saline into the lapband on Monday.  My next one will be just before Christmas.  So far I’m not noticeably less hungry but am still limited to 8 oz/day (tho I’m kind of stretching it a little bit).  Still, I’m taking in under 350 calories/day at this point and as soon as I’m healed up, I’m looking forward to having more variety.   Here’s the total change since April:

Last weekend I was up in Foxboro, MA, to visit my nephew who plays football with the New England Patriots.  He’s been on the practice squad for a month and his dad flew up for the weekend and went to the big game with him on Sunday.  It was great to see them again after almost a year, especially since the family will be in Texas for Thanksgiving without either of the New England contingent.

I’m looking forward to a low-key sleep-in long weekend.  I have no leftovers except chicken but am just as happy not to be in a carb-coma on the couch after eating too much food I didn’t really want or need.  My two weeks off post-op really spoiled me for lazy quiet days so I’m thrilled to have these now, and the promise of a long Christmas recess break in just a few weeks.

For now, hope your holiday was happy, your family and friends are healthy, and your weekend is relaxed.


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Cold and Blessed

Shivering in the coldIt’s hard to type with a bandaid on my thumb. Why do I have one?  Because my cold-induced frozen brain didn’t remember that knives have a sharp side and that I shouldn’t grab the pointy parts when doing dishes.   Oops.

Last weekend I was wearing sandals and a light jacket when I went about my Saturday errands.  Yesterday I had on the puffy coat, scarf, fleece hat, and insulated gloves.  Warm weather is gone until late spring and the kitty and I are having problems adjusting.  She wants me to have the door open so she can pretend she is outside freezing.  I want to close everything and crank up the heat.  I have the opposable thumbs (even if one is in a bandaid) so I’m winning this one.

I went out in the cold yesterday to run some errands, including a stop at Avenue to return something purchased online that I didn’t like in person (yayy for saving money and not keeping it just because it was already there).  At TJ Maxx/Home Goods, the store was full of people who were doing more looking than buying; clothes were the most popular thing found in carts, not the aisles of fancy schmancy Christmas decorations.

The grocery store was a nut-house with people shopping like crazy for Thanksgiving dinner and extended entertaining.  I managed to stick to my list except for lima beans which were inexplicably missing from the frozen food section.  Why would a store sell out of LIMA BEANS?  I only use them for one recipe and would never want a little serving of just limas.  Oh well, I’m substituting edamame in today’s Brunswick Stew recipe instead, because it was already in the freezer.  Plus it will add some additional protein.

The local fire department was outside the grocery, soliciting donations for the food bank.  Much as I want to donate food to the pantry, I’ve had a hard time finding actual physical locations to take stuff so this was perfect.  In addition to my own stuff, I added in pasta and meat sauce, a big can of ravioli, a bunch of jars of baby food, and canned fruit, which I added to their boxes as I left the store.  Plus $20 to help buy turkeys for families.

I have so much, am so blessed with a home, food, and money to buy what I need.  Watching stories of the newly homeless, the folks without medical care or making choices between food and electricity, food banks with empty shelves, and so much more, has made me feel helpless and sad.  But I’ve decided that I can do something with the money I have — it’s not a cop out to donate to organizations that actively help people.  The Food Pantry and the Salvation Army are two that I’m choosing to support this winter, not just once, but often.  Since we’re scaling back Christmas shopping, I’m going to just channel the “extra” money into donations.   It feels good to know that I can help.


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Quiet Thanksgiving Eve

Pilgrim holding a turkey

The campus was deserted today. Students were already gone with no classes to attend, and the only people I saw around on the streets were staff and there weren’t many of us; faculty were MIA. The air was still and quiet under a gray sky and the leaves still hanging around on the trees and fluttering to the ground below were translucent and almost watered down yellow instead of brilliant gold. Winter is coming.

They released us early and people scattered to the four winds promptly at the stroke of 1:00 to head out of town or home to whip up mountains of food. I needed to kill time before my 5:00 Weight Watchers meeting and knew that if I went home, I would just stay there and not leave again.

So I filled the time with an amble over to the campus bookstore to look at Christmas cards and new books all shiny and interesting, then continued walking on to the health center to pick up my sleep meds, then on to the parking garage. This didn’t eat up a lot of time but it was progress.

Next stop was Home Goods where I found a cute pair of silver Christmas tree earrings long enough to be seen beneath my hair (I rarely wear small earrings now), then happily poked around in the spa products and napped a few Christmas presents. Shhh, don’t tell. Sitting on top of a fancy basket of lotions was a black shearling hat with leopard lining. Miracle of miracles, it fit like a glove – not too tight, not too loose. In just a few weeks, this will come in very handy when I’m out shivering at the bus stop.

There was an Asian mother and child in front of me in line, speaking something exotic and laughing with their friends, and I was reminded how much we take for granted that everyone here will speak English while we rarely bother to learn the languages of anyone else. I don’t think I’m quite up for Chinese but it sounded fun.

I wasted more time at the drug store and then picked up a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream to take tomorrow to my Thanksgiving hostess. The liquor store is three doors down from the WW Center, so I was getting closer to my goal. At 5:00 the waiting — not hordes, but there were at least a few of us — ran in to weigh before skipping the meeting to head for grandmother’s house. I was among them, pleased to have lost 0.6 lbs after some mini-meltdowns this week, but anxious to get home to put my trusty frozen peas on my sore knee.

Tomorrow I can sleep until Tessie insists I get up to show her the food already in her bowl. There’s the Macy’s parade to watch and family to call before I head out to share Thanksgiving with my friends. I’m not going to obsess over the food; I’ll do my best to be reasonable but after all, this is only one meal out of 21 this week. Why let myself get bent out of shape?

I wish you a happy and grace-filled Thanksgiving, wherever you are and however you spend it.


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Traditional Thanksgiving Food

Inflatable TurkeyI have a weakness for mincemeat, especially enhanced with brandy or rum. Yesterday I bought a jar – even though I knew it was a bad idea – and managed to eat almost the whole thing before finally tossing the last bits. I felt stuffed and slightly nauseous and don’t think I’m going to succumb to the temptation again any time soon. Once a season is usually enough. Though if someone were to offer me some really good fruitcake, I could do some damage. I love fruitcake. But I’m not going to buy any for myself. I’m not that crazy.

It’s interesting how certain foods are traditional in some families and not others, and how traditions develop. My mom grew up having turnips on her Thanksgiving table, despised them, and vowed they would never appear in her kitchen. So I never had them and didn’t miss them because she told me they were awful. My family has turkey, of course, with a simple bread stuffing that’s cooked inside the turkey, not in a separate pan. We also have cornbread dressing, brought to us by my sister in law who grew up having that instead. Now we have both.

I think we maybe used to have mashed potatoes, though certainly not in recent memory. But sweet potato casserole with oranges and those little marshmallows on top are a staple and devoured completely. Some kind of green vegetable – used to be that ubiquitous green bean casserole with little onions on top, but now I think maybe just plain beans. And the newest addition is sweet and sour red cabbage, brought to our table by a neighbor who brought a piece of their tradition when they began celebrating the day with us. It’s colorful and a nice change of color and texture.

The desserts are the usual pies but I’m not really a pie fan. I’d rather have cake if I’m going to do a dessert, especially chocolate cake. But cake somehow isn’t a traditional Thanksgiving thing. Do you think the Pilgrims actually made pecan pies in shiny pie tins and had them for dessert at that first supper? Highly unlikely. Apple or pumpkin are possible but I don’t really like either of those either. I’m weird.

Going to someone else’s holiday meal is fun but disconcerting because their traditions – and traditional foods – are different, and Thanksgiving is about tradition and family. And football, of course, though I did spend one year with friends watching a dog show and playing cards instead and actually liked it more. And had Chinese food one year with other friends, which was different.

I’m nervous about handling myself this year. I’ve been invited out but really would rather by myself at home where I can control the food and entertain myself with weird TV and a jigsaw puzzle. I’m alone but not lonely and this year I have my cat who might even get a can of kitty turkey dinner as a treat. Alone I would have roast chicken, a sweet potato, and steamed vegetables with a baked apple for dessert. No temptation of wine or rolls or “nibbly bits” as Rachel Ray calls them. And the desserts. Even though I’m not a pie person, I’m likely to eat them if they’re there.

Today the food was under control. No exercise but I did get out of the house for a while, paid bills, and tidied up a bit. And read a book and played with the cat. Weekends are for recharging and once I got over my little misadventure with the mincemeat, I enjoyed it a lot more.


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Meal Planning a Week Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving tableThe week before Thanksgiving, folks in Weight Watchers meetings practice picking the foods they want to eat for the big holiday meal. I’ve done this several times now and it’s still a useful exercise because the mind cleverly forgets how fast it all adds up.

There are three different things to consider in building the meal: the item, the portion size, and the frequency. Because we all know Thanksgiving food tends to generate leftovers and therefore repeated temptation.

Here’s the list of some traditional Thanksgiving foods with their point values:

1 slice turkey – 2 points
1/2 C. stuffing – 4 points
1/4 C. gravy – 2 points
1/4 C. Cranberry sauce – 2 points
1 C. Green beans – 0 points (but 5 pts if you eat green bean casserole)
1 C. salad – 0 pts (but add whatever points you’d use for dressing if you use it)
1 C. fruit salad – 2 points
Dinner roll – 3 points
1 large Sweet potato – 3 points
1/2 C. Mashed potato – 2 points
1 C. Winter squash – 1 point
1 slice pumpkin pie – 9 points
1 slice apple pie – 9 points
1 oz. mixed nuts – 4
Glass of wine – 3 points
Coffee or tea – 0 points

Realistically none of us is going to eat all of that stuff, not any more and not after seeing how many points it all works out to be! There are some things that are not negotiable for me and they won’t be the same things that you decide are worth having. I want stuffing and only have it twice a year so it’s on my list, but can live without dinner rolls or nuts. Turkey is also necessary (duh). Wine is nice but not necessary and not drinking it is not nearly as conspicuous as it used to be. I can use the points for other things.

Pie is a problem because I rarely have it, so when it’s around, I want to eat it. But I never really liked pumpkin pie so if that’s the only choice, I can have just a tiny bit and be fine. Apple or mince? Much bigger problem. When I build my plate, I make sure to allow points for a slice of something and then don’t feel guilty about what I do eat.

Some strategies to think about and consider:

  • Focus more on people than food
  • Lighten up some of your traditional recipes
  • Don’t skip other meals on the holiday; you’ll just eat more
  • Use smaller plates
  • Wear fitted clothes – not skin tight, but enough that you feel full faster
  • Drink water
  • Exercise – go for a walk sometimes in the day, maybe with others in between courses or by yourself in the morning
  • Plan to see some of your plate around the food you put on it
  • If you’re hosting, prepare sensible quantities so you don’t have excessive leftovers
  • Eat lots of veggies to help control portions of food with higher points value
  • Share leftovers with guests
  • Freeze leftovers in portion controlled containers to enjoy later

No matter how yummy something tastes, the last bite of it will taste the same as the first; it won’t get better. So I really don’t need to eat until I am so stuffed that I can’t move; there is no point to it and it won’t make me feel better about myself. I have a lot to be thankful for and I’d rather focus on that than on beating myself up over food.
I have a week to practice. What are some of your strategies and tips?