Yesterday was my office "Christmas party." I thought I'd write a little bit about this to give a glimpse of how a vegan with an eating disorder deals with Christmas food and festivities.
The restaurant was lovely -- for an omnivore. I knew I was going to have to plan ahead, so I looked at the menu on line the day before. I did see that a vegan could order pasta with red sauce (at least I assume the red sauce was vegan; I wasn't going to eat it so I didn't check), but I don't eat pasta. But this place had side dishes that could be ordered separately. Thank the FSM for side dishes. Lots of restaurants don't seem to have them any more, but they can really help a vegan out.
My typical lunch is starch, protein, vegetable, fruit. I saw that I would be able to order a plain baked potato and steamed spinach, but no protein. So I went home and made my favorite baked tofu, from Appetite for Reduction. A three-ounce serving wrapped in plastic wrap fit very nicely in my purse. Then when it was time to order, I got the baked potato ("no butter, no sour cream") and spinach. I unwrapped my tofu and put it on my bread plate. There wasn't any fruit for me to order, so I ate a banana when I got home.
The baked potato was good, with a nice crisp skin. The spinach was meh. It was baby spinach, which was nice, and it wasn't overcooked, but they didn't do a good job draining it. I also found a rogue piece of spaghetti in the bottom of the bowl (with the cooking water that should have been drained away). Ew. Also, the portion was tiny ("The food was terrible! And such small portions!"). I really should have ordered two vegetables, but at those prices I couldn't bring myself to do it.
Fortunately, my coworkers are used to me. I got a few questions about the tofu (one person seemed unaware that tofu can be purchased in a grocery store), but none of the interrogation or mocking I've read about on vegan message boards. I'm amazed by the crap some vegans have to deal with.
The lunchtime conversation reminded me how fortunate I am, to have a way to deal with food. This is the time of year that amateurs who don't normally overeat start acting like people with binge eating disorder. There has been a steady stream of junk food gifts to my office -- cookies, cupcakes, popcorn, chocolate -- and apparently everyone but me has been snacking all day (most of the stuff isn't vegan, but when I was deep in the throes of my eating disorder that would not have stopped me). People were complaining about stomach aches and weight gain. In January they'll all be heading to Weight Watchers and the gym. Meanwhile I'm all "starch, protein, vegetable, fruit, repeat." I've been getting more exercise lately, wearing a pedometer and taking 10,000 steps a day. My knee isn't thrilled, but otherwise my body feels great. I don't know how much I weigh (a topic for another post), but I'd guess my weight has stayed the same or even gone down a little bit.
It seems like normal people overeat around the holidays, and then when the holidays are over they go back to normal eating or do a diet or a cleanse for a while. The last time I did any holiday overeating, it took me about six months to stop. People say "My disease doesn't take a holiday, so I can't either." I have to eat the same way all the time. No highs and no lows. It's like what I wrote a month ago about living on a plateau.
One of the weird things about being in recovery is that people say things like "you have so much self control." Someone said that at the holiday lunch yesterday when I didn't order dessert. I said, "I really don't." What is hard for normal people to understand is that if I had any self control, I wouldn't have to eat this way. But that's okay. For today I'm feeling really peaceful, and I don't mind.