I just returned from a trip to celebrate my mother's birthday--a big one, but I won't tell which one! My entire family--my mother, brother, sister and their spouses and children--were in attendance. It was quite a party! The 6 kids were all running around the house screaming, the adults sat around the dinner table catching up, and all around it was a lovely evening.
Of course, my biggest concern before the trip was food. Actually, that's not entirely true. My biggest concern was having to explain my issues with food. Every time I thought of it, I started having these dialogues in my head. I am the youngest sibling, and have spent half my life looking for my family's approval. The other half has been spent bucking the system and doing things my way as much as possible, so I don't always get their approval. It's an odd dynamic. Anyway, the dialogues (in my head) always ended up with them calling me crazy and saying I'm going off the deep end, and me getting angry and defensive and self-righteous.
This only happens in my head, however. No one has ever said anything cruel or offensive to my face. This is me, manifesting my own internalizations and fears from so many years ago they are not even worth remembering.
I recently watched The Secret and the most thought provoking piece I took from it was that we truly create our own reality by our thoughts and expectations and attitudes. When I expect my family to disapprove of me, I will somehow make it happen by doing something worthy of disapproval. Drinking too much, saying something I shouldn't, being whiny and defensive or otherwise insecure. This time, I decided for myself that I didn't need to be defensive. I have nothing to be ashamed of in terms of my health choices.
I believe in the power of positive thinking. So I visualized myself doing what I needed to do in terms of food, not stressing over it, and my family being kind, understanding, and respectful. And you know, they were.
I was very lucky in that my sister in law cooked a beautiful meal full of fresh ingredients, nothing processed except the bread, which I could do without. I made a side dish of bulgur wheat, cranberries and apricots that was pretty darn good, and everyone took some and complimented it and respectfully asked about the food and its benefits to me. I thought about having a beer (not ready for grapes yet), but in the end, I really enjoyed the evening without it.
This is a big change for me. Usually, when I'm with my family, the wine is a-flowing. And I usually end up having one too many. And I do something obnoxious and continue the cycle of shame and disapproval. But not this time. Am I growing up? Finally? This time, I didn't make it about me. It was about my mother. We all did our best to make her night enjoyable, and she had a great time. A successful weekend.
Creative positive visualization is a good thing. Too bad there is often a time delay. Do you think if I visualized my house being clean I could open my eyes and it would be clean? Ha ha! But I CAN make it happen, one way or another.
As far as food goes, my biggest challenge right now is trying to eat food from different families every day. Nightshades are a problem. If tomatoes aren't on the plate, then potatoes probably are. And I love 'em both! Another thing I found this weekend--the less I obsess over what I eat, the better I feel. Food that might be problematic, such as dairy (little bits of cheese in salads, a little ice cream on a dessert) didn't bother me as much. I did have a gigantic headache after a cup of coffee, so I need to watch that. Otherwise, stress plays a great role in my healing process.
Here is the dish I made for my family, served alongside Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon, boiled potatoes, fruit salad and green salad.
Cranberry and Apricot Bulgur Wheat
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil
I found a steamer so I used that, but you could probably boil it all together. Put water in bottom of steamer. Put cranberries and apricots in steamer basket and steam for 5 minutes. Add bulgur to water and cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat (until tender and water has been absorbed). Add steamed fruit to bulgur, add spices and oil, mix well and serve. Great breakfast leftovers too!
Enjoy! Visualize (with your taste buds, somehow) how good it will be!