In our culture where excess is highly desirable, the holidays loom as a dangerous time for those of us challenged or baffled by moderation. Normal eaters and drinkers, those who can do just one or two of something, don't understand us the rest of the year and they really don't understand us now, trotting out the sweets, the fat-laden savories, the gluten-rich everything and wondering why we aren't loading our plates.
At the same time we don't want to wear our abstinence like a neon sign. We don't want to ask the hostess to list every ingredient or explain that butter is dairy or that the sugar in her salad dressing is more than we can handle. Because I'm trying to move away from having life be about food, I don't want my holiday events to center around food either. Here are some things I've learned that make it easier for me to be a guest.
1. If the event is a meal, take a side dish or salad that you can eat. Even if it isn't a potluck, take something that you can eat. If possible, take something pretty and festive (watch for the upcoming blog post on winter salads) like a plate of sliced oranges and steamed greens sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and pomegranate seeds. I keep a set of inexpensive red plastic plates for such occasions. I never worry about getting the plate back.
2. If the event is in the afternoon (not lunch or dinner), I usually eat a snack before I go and then say I had a late lunch and just can't eat a thing and I move away from the table as far as I can get and talk to someone, especially someone who's not eating.
3. I don't go to many events that serve alcohol anymore but I learned early in sobriety to walk in with a can of soda in my hand and that precludes anyone from giving me a drink that I don't fix myself.
4. I keep my glove compartment stocked with a couple of Larabars (dates and nuts) and some little baggies of nuts to be sure I don't walk into an event, meeting, get-together without something I can safely eat. I usually have one of each in my purse as well so that I can eat along with everyone else. Some people are really uncomfortable if they're eating (or drinking) and you're not.
We don't have to go off our plan this holiday. Of course, we may choose to, but that's a different story.