Monday, November 19, 2007

Ruffling Turkey Feathers

As the 2007 Thanksgiving holiday in America approaches, I am reminded of social eating once again. I think if anything, this holiday is the most focused on food as that’s what it seems to be all about – The Food.

The main meal – the Turkey Dinner is in the foreground while the real meaning is in the background for most people celebrating it.

My hope is that people needing some insight will read this in time – it addresses some social eating issues with raw and vegetarian eaters. Many people handle themselves quite well around others. They do not let pushy friends and relatives get to them. They happily do and eat what they want to do and don’t place blame on anyone or guilt on themselves. But there are those who either feel guilty or defensive and those feelings are much more intense during a shared Thanksgiving Dinner with loved ones.

I have found with my own history and background, that I myself have been pushy and judgmental plenty of times before embarking on my own journey to health. I have thought that people eating and doing different and healthier things than I was strange and I never understood it. I can chalk a lot of that up to immaturity and ignorance, and an unwillingness to learn and explore anything outside of my own box.

Not to ruffle any feathers, but it seems to me that a lot of folks, who tend to allow themselves to be bothered by others around them, may have themselves been over-critical and not understanding of others at one time in their lives. Now that the tables are turned on them being the different ones, they have a hard time dealing with people.

One of the things that cause a lot of stress, in myself, is my mind constantly setting up a situation before it happens. Some people may call it a “monkey mind" or "monkey chatter" but I just think of it as brain thought overload!

I may start thinking of a particular event that I am going to experience, and with that event all the things that could go wrong. I could be thinking about a certain friend or relative who will probably be saying this and that to me, and all the things I should say and do in response.

Even 10 times worse, I would tend to think about something after the fact:

“Why did s/he say that to me?”

“Gosh they were so pushy with me, they made me eat something because I was so annoyed at their behavior!”

“He really embarrassed me by what he said – he didn’t have to broadcast my diet to the whole table!”

“Why did I give in to her constant prodding? I should have just told her ‘no thank you’ for the 5th time and she would have finally gotten the picture! Now I am going to wake up with a cooked hangover, and probably have to deal with really bad cooked food cravings for a whole week!”

“I should have told him that I just feel great eating this way and leave it at that. Why did I have to get in a big debate over the evils of dairy?”

The kicker is that all of these people I was thinking about, probably weren’t even thinking about me. They were likely happily home and in bed, or wrapping up their evenings in their own way, not worrying or going on and on about what happened between me and them.

You see how the stress of the holidays, are more of an inner stress that can fester inside of us! It's a "welcomed" stress that we create all by ourselves.

As a child, were you ever stressed out about such things? I wasn’t! I can remember my mother getting very, very stressed, getting ready for Holiday Company. I could never guess why she would yell at me.

As I became a mother, I found myself yelling at my own, and getting *myself* stressed out when we were expecting company, and the time was getting closer to their arrival. I'd be scrambling around, trying to get everything "done" before it was time. Over the years, I did get a handle on it, but when I’m not organized, I tend to get stressed again.

Well, we cannot go back in time and become children again, now can we, and why would we, because with age comes experience and you wouldn’t want to undo all the experience you’ve accrued over the years.

As we become older, we become better equipped with wisdom in how to deal with certain situations. And it is inevitable that something will bother us and fester from time to time. But knowing how to deal with things does help:

  • Be happy and not defensive. A smile or a laugh always helps when answering a question. As hard as it may be when the time comes, smile and find amusement in the situation you are in!

  • You don’t have to succumb to anything you don’t want to. Especially if you know eating something could make things unpleasant and uncomfortable to your body. Just like an allergy or other health condition, you shouldn’t eat something that disagrees with you or causes a severe reaction in you. Your eating lifestyle should be no different than someone who can't tolerate certain foods from an allergy or a diabetic steering clear of cake.

  • If there is an exchange or words that make you uncomfortable, try to be in control of the situation. Try not to let it fester and bother you later on. Make a quick turn-around by thinking of something funny that will erase that bad memory. Or pray for the person who made you uncomfortable. Or even give that person a hug. Turn around the situation quickly so you aren’t left to mull it over in your head the rest of the evening.

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