Dinner with Family

We went to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner a couple of nights ago to hang out and exchange gifts between the kids. Chanukah had already ended, but this night happened to be the best night to get together.

I had just got back from the therapist a few hours prior and had a bunch of awareness swimming around in my head (therapy blog). Before and during dinner I felt totally fine. I was comfortable, ate good portions, engaged in conversations, didn’t inhale my food. All was well with in my recovering-from-compulsive-eating world.

The kids opened presents and then we put out dessert. There were some cookies that held no appeal for me so that was no problem, and there was some fruit that I didn’t like. However, there were some leftover dark-chocolate dipped fruit that someone had given them a few days prior. (Dark chocolate is my fav.) I chose the last big hunk of chocolate-dipped pineapple after mentally tallying the calories in my head. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law told all of us that they didn’t really like dark chocolate and to please enjoy it and/or take it home if we wanted because it was just going to get tossed later that night.

So we are all sitting around the kitchen table with the desserts in front of us, which is never the best situation for me. In hindsight, I should have got myself up and walked away from the table, but we were sitting around talking so I felt a little funny getting up. Mistake. Sitting there with the chocolate-dipped fruit in front of me, my own private conversation started going on in my head. I was slowly removing my brain cells from the family chatting as my thoughts had now turned to the food — should I or shouldn’t I have another piece?

So being the huge dark chocolate fan that I am, I decided to take a piece of chocolate-dipped apple, intending only to eat the chocolate (because sadly, I don’t like apples). It was a thought-out decision on my part that since dark chocolate is my fav, that I was going to “let go” and allow myself to have some more. About 10 minutes later, I chose a second one to have. At this point, my husband who was sitting next to me with his arm around me, sort of gave my shoulder a squeeze to let me know he saw where things were headed. I whispered it was my last one.

Meanwhile, my husband’s uncle, sitting two seats away had also chosen an apple piece. He cut the chocolate off and ate the apple. I saw the chocolate laying in pieces there on his plate and then another conversation started in my head — it would be wrong to eat it off his plate… oh what’s the big deal… I am supposed to savor the things that are worth it and this is worth it… it’s gross to eat off of someone else’s plate no matter how fastidious this person is… i know his mouth didn’t touch the chocolate… So yes, clearly I was a bit obsessed about it, which is not what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be observing and not focusing on the food. Ugh!

So a little while later I stood up to clear plates. I made sure the uncle’s plate was on top and indeed, after I turned my back on everyone at the table to walk to the trash/sink, I did take one of the pieces of chocolate off his plate and popped it into my mouth. To my credit, I only took one piece and threw the rest in the trash. (but p.s., when I talked to my husband about the whole thing later, he told me he saw me eat the chocolate off his uncle’s plate. Snagged!)

Later, as we were cleaning up the kitchen, my b-i-l asked if we wanted to take the few remaining pieces of choclate-covered fruit home and I immediately said no. He tossed it into the trash and that was that.

So maybe not the best choice(s) as far as compulsive behavior goes, but I was less than 100 calories over in my count for the day and I enjoyed some delish dark chocolate. Next time I will get up instead of sitting there with the tempting desserts in front of me until the day (lord willing!) comes that I can sit there and not obsess about them. In the big picture, no harm done. I didn’t beat myself up about it, it was no big deal calorie-wise. My initial behavior, the social anxiety at least, was good for half of the visit. That is a step in the right direction. Baby steps. One outing at a time.

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6 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Maria
    30 December 2009, 11:04 am

    Oh God, sitting at a dinner table with dessert (and various fattening foods) in front of me is my idea of being stuck in a trap. I cannot even tell you how many pounds I’ve gained by sitting for hours and hours by Shabbos tables, just having another bite, just because it’s there. I’ve also engaged in embarrassing activities such as the one you described (eating off your uncles plate). You did well, though, by only having 1 bite. One hundred calories over is not much. You’ll eat a little less the day after, or exercise an extra 15 minutes.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    yes, it really is a terrible trap. you don’t want to be horrible and leave the table, but the truth is, as i’ve coming to learn, is that i have to take care of myself first. and if doing that means leaving the table so i’m not totally obessising about the food in front of me and not really being present for anyone else at the table, why not walk away to help myself out. if people don’t understand, make up and excuse of why you had to leave, or go busy yourself doing dishes. i honestly do not know how people can sit there with a buffet of food in front of them and not feel compelled to have it. we are just wired differently than “normal” eaters i guess.


  2. jackie callahan
    04 January 2010, 8:58 am

    I love your honesty; the conversations we have in our heads are something else, aren’t they?
    Those situations are torturous and not easy to deal with. I often get up and play with the kids, or as love2eat said, do dishes, anything to remove yourself and break the “moment”, sometimes that little bit of distance is all we need to break the spell the food puts us under. Something I’ve done too, is to bring a healthy dessert (whole grain, fruit sweetened, etc.) as a gift for the evening, that way I know there will be at least one thing there that is Ok to eat. I often do this with a main dish as well, when it’s a situation where people are bringing food offerings. I am on my sixth day sugar-free by the way, and I feel great! Thanks for the inspiration!


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    hi jackie, thanks so much for writing!
    i feel like being honest with myself and others is the best way to deal with this. as my site tagline says, “you are only as sick as your secrets” and that, to this day, still really speaks to me. i’m guessing that you have an eating disorder as well?
    i too always make sure i bring a healthy food along as my contribution to the gathering. sometimes that works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. sometimes the other treats call too loudly to me and i don’t even eat what i brought.
    congrats on being 6 days sugar free! one day at a time, one meal at a time.
    i hope to keep hearing from you! i’m going to check out your website too. : )


  3. CasAinFL
    28 April 2010, 8:49 am

    i can’t sit at a table with food still on it. if i do, i cannot focus on any discussion whatsoever. period. the obsession is so strong that sometimes i actually feel a physical pulling compulsion (like a string pulling my hands toward the foods) to eat the food left there in the serving dishes. family gatherings are my most difficult meals because of this. and i don’t do well with clearing off the table and putting the leftover foods into smaller containers because then i want to sneak bites and like the spoons i’m using. and my fingers. and those BLTs (bites, licks and tastes) usually lead to more bites and more servings and before i know it, i’m binging.


    i can stick with volunteering to go play with the kids, change a diaper for another mom who never gets a break, or unload the dishwasher and load it (leaving the scraping and clearing to someone else!).

    i wonder why i find it totally acceptable to eat off my son’s plate but think it’s gross to eat from someone else’s? that’s something i’ll have to give some thought and writing to.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    my gosh, it’s like we are the same person! they key is getting out of the kitchen and not sitting at the table or near the leftovers.

    thanks for stopping by!


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