Respecting food choices on Huffington Post

My latest blog for Huffington Post details my own progression from judgment to respect of others’ decisions about their food and dietary restrictions.

Read the whole piece here:

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Filed under Social issues, Uncategorized

Gift wrapping

I am as terrible at wrapping presents as I used to be at cooking.  But this year, things are changing.

Two big things have happened so far, and it’s not even Christmas Eve.  First, I was allowed to stir the pot of toffee cooking on the stove.  (Toffee: boiled sugar and other unhealthy things, poured onto a pan with chocolate melted on top and then hardened outside in the snow.  I’d provide the recipe but it’s too dangerous).

Let me rephrase that: I was allowed to stir the boiling vat of candy threatening to scald your hands and stick to your skin with the pain of a thousand darkening grains of sugar.  It took two years of cooking and a piece in the New York Times for my mother to allow me within a three-foot vicinity of the pot.  (Okay, this might be a bit of embellishment.  She probably would have let me do this many years ago if I had shown the interest and caution that it deserves).  So, I stirred the toffee.  Now all I need is a candy thermometer and I can make it myself.  If I have the guts to do it.  I’ll keep you posted next year.

The second big thing that happened so far this holiday season: I actually listened to advice.  Years ago family attempted to teach me how to wrap gifts neatly.  But I, proud of my misshapen and overly taped gifts, refused to listen and placed my gifts under the tree in a big huff.

That being said, some small part of my brain retained the knowledge and this year, while wrapping a large box, I remembered that I could pull the sides out rather than crumpling them in, much like neatly tucking in the sheets of a freshly-made bed.  I tried it and found I obtained a crisp fold that required only two pieces of tape, rather than the usual seven per side.  I still used three just to be safe.

Stirring toffee and heeding advice about gift-wrapping.  I think I’m ready for Christmas.

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Filed under Cooking

Giving Thanks

I have anxiety at the table at holiday meals.  I have anxiety before even getting to the table for holiday meals.  When the focus is on consuming a variety of dishes of food, it brings a certain pressure that feels to me like a heavy load of lead sinking into my stomach.  Eating a variety of foods for me increases the risk of having a reaction, and I worry about ruining the holiday meal with an allergic reaction and possible trip to the hospital.  For me, holiday meals have become as much about making it through without causing a fuss as they are about enjoying a culinary tradition around a table with people I love.

That being said, I still get to sit around a table with people I love.

As a mental health counselor by trade and an optimist by heart, I believe that there is something for which each of us can be grateful, no matter the circumstances.  I may have heightened anxiety at the dinner table, and I may not be able to eat some of the old favorites, but I still have a lot of things for which I am thankful.  I’m thankful for my family, I’m thankful for my growing ability to cook, and I’m thankful to you for reading this.  Thank you for reading, for participating in this conversation, and for sharing your own food, love, and understanding with those around your table this Thursday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


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Filed under Personal, Social issues