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Old 10-31-2007, 01:11 PM   #1
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Default Food Based Family Traditions - How do you Handle Them?

Thought this was particularly appropriate given the upcoming holidays, and my particular situation today.

I am VERY family-oriented. Tradition is very important to me. Just to give you an idea, my mother gave me a quilt that my grandmother had sewn when she was 10 with all her friends and cousins (a friendship quilt) and I cried for a good 15 minutes with how connected I felt to previous generations. Just recently, my mom showed me my grandmother's old cookbook - all hand-glued recipes from magazines, or the best kind, note cards filled with her handwriting and taped in place describing different christmas cookie recipes, with the years she made them written in pencil in the margin. I was so moved, I can't even explain it.

So to me, family traditions are very important. Problem is, SO MANY of them are food based, and not based around healthy foods, either! Now a lot of them are workable - I will never skip my grandfather's home-cooked Christmas breakfast, for example, and it isn't a big deal. But the problem is, there are TONS of traditions, and all of them are important to me, and I don't know how to execute all of them without ruining my plan.

This is coming up today because on Halloween, my mom and I (and she with her mom before) made doughnuts, from scratch, every year, and ate them with hot mulled apple cider. I feel like I'm missing out if I don't have my homemade doughnut! If Halloween is on a weekend, I go home - make the doughnuts, eat one, and leave her with the leftovers! But I'm not making them this year at home, and I'm feeling sad about leaving the tradition to another year. But I know that if I make doughnuts, I'm going to eat them (and the associated tubs of frosting) to a point where I won't be happy with myself.

Anyone else deal with this? What are your food-based traditions? Which ones do you keep, which ones do you skip, and how do you handle it?
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:25 PM   #2
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I would say - make the donuts. Try to only have a few by cutting the recipe in half or giving some away. But even if you eat more than you plan, enjoy it! Then work out an extra 10 minutes for the next 3 days and cut some calories somewhere else. Yes, it feels good to be thin but you have to enjoy your life too.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:38 PM   #3
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I agree with food traditions are important...

For me, The holidays are usually filled with homemade menudo, tamales and cookies. Thanksgiving (if I'm visiting home) includes my mom's fresh baked rolls as well.

I think part of traditions is possibly either making new traditions or modify old ones. I don't know if you plan to have children of your own but if you did, I'm sure you would look at passing on traditions and you may want to look at traditions you would want to pass on to your own children.

How about instead of donuts, try something else? Pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, individual pumpkin cakes, etc.

Zucchini bread is another fall tradition that I always miss when I'm away from home. So much food, so many memories
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:47 PM   #4
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I don't live very close to my family, so when the situations arise, I enjoy. It was much harder to give in and not completely blow my limits when I was still new to weightloss and maintaining, but it's a little more natural now.

I know the holidays happen once a year and have come to expect my weight to shoot up a few pounds, but they get worked off after New Years. I've heard it talked about around here that surrounding events with food is "bad", but I don't think there is something wrong with keeping traditions like that, especially when they mean so much to you. I do understand how people can easily wander off the reservation and take up old habits permanently, though. I don't think you fall into that category.

Whenever I'm at my dad's I tend to eat a LOT (as in, often), but a lot of it is centered around cooking and us hanging out in the kitchen and that's just where we have our finest moments. So my pants might be snug for a few days when I get home. I wouldn't give up those moments for anything.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:49 PM   #5
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Nelie - I put chocolate chip pumpkin cake (my standard recipe with whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree - its healthy AND good) on the dessert menu tonight, and am making a festive meal.

I really can't make the donuts. Eating just one won't happen, and having a tub of frosting in my house that isn't used up completely in one use is probably my strongest trigger. And I'm a little sad, but mostly ok with giving up that tradition for this year, and maybe bringing it back next year.

A thought occurred to me - by working on my health now, I'm giving myself so many more Halloweens on which to have donuts, and make them with my own kids and grandkids...and then they'll eat a bunch of them, so I won't have to worry about having a whole batch of donuts with nowhere for them to go.

Junebug - my decision, I think, would be different if I was actually WITH my family. But this would be me, making doughnuts for my little 2 person family unit, without my mom or any kids to share it with - is the tradition being with the family or the doughnuts themselves? I think its the family part, which is why I'm opting to skip it.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:55 PM   #6
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Hey Amanda!

Maybe the real issue isn't the food, but a feeling that you're "giving up" your family if you don't have the food.

Traditions should never be oppressive, IMO. Yes, you'll miss having the donuts this year, and that's sad--but you still have your family and your connection to all of them! And next time you can, you'll join in.

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Old 10-31-2007, 01:57 PM   #7
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Traditions are so difficult when they involve food. I think that most traditions of making food with family (and then enjoying said food) are really about the time spent with the family.

If this is one of those times that you can do without the exact food, maybe you could call your family up briefly to reminisce about past holidays or just chat a minute Perhaps the small amount of family time that gives you will at least make it bearable to get through the evening without the food.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:06 PM   #8
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I agree completely with it being about the family, not about the food. I was just wondering if anyone else had similar traditions and ways they addressed them.

I know at Christmas, there is going to be at least one "food I normally would bypass" day - my mom and I are taking my grandma's cookbook (she passed away when I was 3), making my grandfather's favorite cookies that she made at Christmastime, and giving them to him in a big gift basket. And my mom and I will do it together, and it will be fabulous, and I'm going to try one of every variety of cookie that I make. That will be with my family and very special, and I'd never pass it up.

My mom and I talk every night - it isn't as if we aren't connected. You should have seen us this weekend - we had a dance party in the aisles of trader joes. The cashiers applauded us as we left. We are VERY close. I'm blessed to have a very close family. But I think for me, it is important to view the traditions as being about the FAMILY, not about the food necessarily, even if it is involved. Making doughnuts by myself, though related to the tradition, wouldn't be the same as getting all flour-y and sticky with my mom.

And yes, Sarah and I are planning kids in about 2-3 years, and I've already got a whole list of traditions I want to start with them...and most will be non-food-focused, but some will be delightfully decadent - like doughnuts. But to make them by myself isn't the same.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:08 PM   #9
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This is my experience: I am the only one who gets fat at these family traditions, not any one else and, quite frankly, I am tired of it. I am more tired of being fat than missing any particular food "experience".

And, as I have been eating healthier and healthier I am more sensitive to how certain "past foods" affect me. I actually now feel sick eating sugary foods. I had my first Krispy Kreme doughnut for my 54th birthday. I went on a tour of one of their kitchens a couple years ago and I told the person I had never had one! How weird is that? So, this year I "bellied up to the bar" and I bought my first dozen of original glazed (this was pre-diet). I ate 10 of the 12. I couldn't stop myself. White sugar is addicting. It is the fat person's "heroin". No mistake!

I miss a lot of the foods I used to eat as well but I don't miss how I felt afterwards. That is going to be MY NEW TRADITION!
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
Nelie - I put chocolate chip pumpkin cake (my standard recipe with whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree - its healthy AND good) on the dessert menu tonight, and am making a festive meal.

I really can't make the donuts. Eating just one won't happen, and having a tub of frosting in my house that isn't used up completely in one use is probably my strongest trigger. And I'm a little sad, but mostly ok with giving up that tradition for this year, and maybe bringing it back next year.

A thought occurred to me - by working on my health now, I'm giving myself so many more Halloweens on which to have donuts, and make them with my own kids and grandkids...and then they'll eat a bunch of them, so I won't have to worry about having a whole batch of donuts with nowhere for them to go.

Junebug - my decision, I think, would be different if I was actually WITH my family. But this would be me, making doughnuts for my little 2 person family unit, without my mom or any kids to share it with - is the tradition being with the family or the doughnuts themselves? I think its the family part, which is why I'm opting to skip it.
Ahh, I def see where you're coming from.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:45 PM   #11
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Food and family are possibly the worst combinations for weightloss for me.

There's manjar blanco, take a can of sweetened condensed milk and boil it in the can for 2 hours. Open it up and spread it on everything, bread, cookies, panetone (big sweet bread with dried fruit).

There's what my sister and I call the "Atkins Special", or pachamanca. One pot of chicken, goat, lamb, pig, and eggs. Put it in a hole with hot rocks, add sweet potatoes and potatoes around the hot rocks. Serve with tamales. This is our Christmas meal. Not having it, or not eating the huge serving is almost a sin.

There's all of the bread and cheese sauces we have.

It's hard not to eat them, since they are traditional. We use the recipe of my great-grandmother, who is remembered as the best cook in the family. Luckily we don't celebrate Thanksgiving. So far, I think that if I prepare for it I should be fine. Eeck!
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Old 10-31-2007, 03:00 PM   #12
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mandalinn82,

I'm touched by your love and connectedness you feel for your family. Hope my daughters will be the same someday.

There's a recipe in the Sneaky Chef cookbook for Choc-ful Donuts. They have spiniach, blueberries, ww flour, and wheat germ in them. You bake them (not fry) in a mini bundt (a.k.a. donut) pan. I don't have any of these pans but it says they only cost a few dollars each. You can use powdered sugar for dusting or use that books recipe for improved icing.

I've given up a few food traditions this year. I figure it's just for a year and then I can enjoy them every now and then, but right now it would effect my weight loss too much. I just wrote down my Thanksgiving Menu today. I'm including all of my Healthy Favorites and replacing the bad stuff with them.
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:24 PM   #13
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I usually cook Thanksgiving Dinner for the whole family. THis year, I am traveling to Florida and cooking a huge meal for my son and his family and I always end up pigging out. I don't want to do that. Somebody on this site said they have learned to just eat one plate at family gatherings. Just one plate...one serving. And if it is just one meal at a family gathering, logically, it shouldn't set anybody back too much. What scares me is the binge eating it sets off. I feel like I have to eat everything in site because I am thinking, tomorrow I will start my diet and I won't get to eat those foods ever again, so I'd better eat everything tonight I won't get to eat anymore. And this process begins over and over and over.
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:48 PM   #14
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Christmas is the hardest time for me; I think that's becuz of memories from my childhood, and there was always celebrations. Thankfully, we had a few treats, but not huge amounts. Like one dish of tiny squares and/or pumpkin pie for dessert ...

I like the pumpkin-chip loaf idea; picking one special thing sounds good. We also have a recipe called MONKEY BRAINS which is pull-apart baked donuts in a bundt (sp) pan. It is really just tea biscuit dough with a bit of sugar & a pinch of nutmeg formed into round balls that were rolled in cinnamon sugar piled in the lightly greased pan and baked. One pan for a group would go pretty fast, I think.

I miss not having family around more than the food though. I have to remind myself not to buy or bake a bunch of stuff that no-one here is going to eat; less is more these days. My new tradition starting this year, is making one kind of treat and a nice dinner; and that's it ...
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:50 PM   #15
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I've spoken with my mother this year, and I've told her how I want to lighten up some of our traditional recipes for a change, such as mashed potatoes, etc. Obviously there are a few dishes that is just perfect the way it is, so you really have to practice moderation with them. My biggest enjoyment with Thanksgiving is having leftovers! This year I've prepared myself by clipping out recipes for a variety of ways to use that turkey leftovers, so that I'm not constantly grazing for days afterwards and going over my calorie limit for the day. Another option here is to use smaller size plates for that day, so you limit what you put on your plate. Then again, it is one day out of the year we have a feast, so in my opinion enjoy it but have plans in place for the leftovers!
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