Help, when there is no help

family picnic

I recently received an email from a friend who is preparing to spend an extended weekend with extended family.  She’s terrified.  Kary has been doing her level best to change the way she eats, recover from some food related illness, and get on board with a saner way of life.  I applaud her for all she’s done to redirect her eating efforts. I know how she feels about change.  It’s hard, for all of us, but it’s necessary and all the more so when bad health sneaks in and threatens to upend one’s life.

Kary’s most recent email discussed her feelings about preparing to spend time with people who not only don’t support her food choices, but can be emotionally draining.  As I said at the beginning of this post, change is hard, and it’s made harder still when you feel like you’re stuck in a situation where no one agrees with you, no one supports you, no one understands why you’ve rather eat better than take more medication (not to mention that everyone has an opinion that they are all too ready to express).  I know Kary can make it through this vacation with extended family, but I also know it won’t be easy.  I shared with her the two tricks I use to get through family parties, reunions, vacations, and other similar functions.  I really only have two tricks that I use, and most of the time they work.  If they don’t, I run in the other direction as soon as no one is looking. Oh, sure, call me a coward, but you don’t know my family.

Just kidding.  Most of my relatives are sane, and the rest are in wheel chairs, so hot pursuit is usually not a real threat.

I thought I might share my two, count them, two, tips for surviving the trauma of summer vacations with family here today. Are you ready?  Get a pencil and write these down.  They are, if I must say so myself, show stoppers.

My No. 1 tip for surviving a family vacation and not blowing your diet is this:  Drink, drink, drink lots of water.  I make sure that as I am milling around the picnic table or someone else’s parlor, I have a tall glass of ice water in my hands at all times.  When someone says something that I feel is disruptive to my spirit, I simply put glass to lips and sip, while shaking my head and furrowing my brow in a way that says to the other party, “Hmm, interesting idea.”  It’s not really a lie that I find what they are saying interesting.  I do find it interesting that someone I have not seen for five years would spend 30 minutes telling me first of all, “You look great, what are you doing, ” then quickly follow that up with any number of helpful suggestions for how I might lose fifty pounds.  I guess they don’t think about the fact that the weight they lost found its way back home to them.  Interesting, indeed.

My No. 2 tip for surviving a family vacation and not blowing my diet is to ask a lot of questions.  Between sips of ice water, and shaking my heads as I’m offered bits of info about how I ought to do this or that and I’d have better success, I ask leading questions:  How are the kids.  Did Kyle graduate, already?  Will he continue on with school?  What aspect of serving in Afghanistan did Sue like most?  You have five grandchildren now? Where are they living?  Do you see them often?  Tell me about them…

You get the picture–keep ’em talking about “their” stuff and you won’t have to explain your stuff.  It’s not a great game plan to pass along to anyone else, but it is what I do when I’m trapped by invited to join in on extended family vacations in the summer time.

Changing directions for a minute, I want to talk about changes with my food that have come about this summer.  Lately, I have been feeling good about the lack of white sugar and processed food I’ve eaten.  I can see that I am making progress, albeit slow, in altering my eating patterns away from foods that metabolize rapidly, like processed sugar and flours do.  I feel like the less processed foods and sugar I eat, the less I crave food in general, and sugars in particular.  Is that true of everyone who quits this stuff?

I feel like my diet is becoming boring, too, but in a good way.  Today, especially, I am feeling less chaotic and more like the fog of food obsession is lifting. I hate to say it is better for the long haul, because I’ve gotten here before and then been pulled back into the love/hate relationship I have with sugar.  I am hopeful, though, and that feels good to me.

I am drinking more coffee than I should, and I do use artificial sweeteners, so not great progress there, but progress.

I need to drink more water.  Doesn’t everyone?

I am also more aware of habits I’ve formed regarding food and eating establishments.  I now realize the draw there is for me to hang certain places, places where in the past I shoved food I loved into my pie hole as quickly as I could.  The aromas in these old haunts are, well, haunting.  Still, I am feeling more aware of the reasons why I found these places comforting in the past. That’s good news, because if I know how I got caught in the habit loop in the first place, I can formulate a plan for getting out.  Or at least that’s the theory I’m working with today.

I’m making a conscious effort to turn to savory foods more often now, instead of sweets.  I am also showing interest in researching recipes for savory dishes that I think I might like.

More and more I’m moving away from what got me sick in the first place, and replacing those substances with healthier fare.  I have more energy, less of a sense of chaos in my head, and a lighter feel all around because of these changes.

What are you doing this summer to protect your food plan and pursue healthy living?  I would love to hear about the changes you’ve made. Share away, my friend, share away…

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One thought on “Help, when there is no help

  1. It’s sad but true that family can be a real issue for so many of us! I have seen some really easy connected families so I know they do exist 🙂

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