Dear Ellie

Thanks to the Fall back time change, I am getting up about half an hour earlier before my alarm sounds. This leaves me with a little extra time to peruse the morning paper at work with a coffee, since I am getting there earlier now before I begin my shift.

I love reading the advice columns. Does anyone else dive into Dear Abby or Ask Sue? I often find these columns helpful when I am going through a similar situation and need advice. Well, today I read an interesting Dear Ellie in the local paper. Ellie is a Toronto-based advice columnist.

The problem of the reader was something along these lines from what I can recall. (but is not exact.)

Dear Ellie,

I was diagnosed with obesity by my doctor and this was a wake-up call for me after living a life of inactivity and over-eating. I’m in my early forties.  I have lost over seventy pounds, but still have more to go. 

I love this time of year with all the holidays, seeing friends and family at gatherings and parties. The part I really dislike about this time of year is all the food. I have a lot of issues around over-eating, and once I start eating desserts and rich foods it is very difficult for me to stop. The best thing for me to do is not being around these types of temptations all together. 

The problem is, anytime I host a gathering, people still bring unhealthy foods to my home although they know my struggles and I am trying to lose more weight. It is very frustrating because I am often left with tons of left-over cakes, cookies, pies and other goodies that I cannot refuse if it is left around the house. 

What should I do this holiday season to prepare myself for success? 

Ellie’s advice was very no-nonsense. She advised the reader to be upfront. Let everyone know in your circle that you are not eating certain foods (particularly desserts) because you are struggling with temptation and still need to lose weight. Be honest in hopes of getting their understanding and sympathy. If sending out invitations, Ellie advised to have printed on them, please bring a veggie or fruit tray if wanting to contribute something.

Ellie also replied that if people still bring unhealthy choices to the reader’s party, that she should make sure to pack them up and send them back with the person who brought them.

For many, the holidays can bring forth issues in the way of your pesky aunt asking why you’re still single. Your cousin’s bratty kids who are running wild around your China platter or yanking your dog’s tail. The stress of prepping and preparing. For others, it is food addiction. Food and sugar addiction is a very real problem for many people. Some people who are trying to avoid these foods do have to stay away from them altogether to be successful and this can be difficult around the holidays when food is the centre of everything. For some, moderation does not work for them at the moment and they do not know how to moderate.  I know how this reader must be feeling with her issues around food this time of year. There is always so much temptation. The amount of food at events and gatherings can be over-whelming and scary when you are trying to lose weight.  I think it would be in everyone’s advantage attending a party with only healthy options once in a while, especially if you know there is someone who needs your help and support to be successful. I personally would not have a problem if a host requested healthy foods only. I would like to think I would be on board to help in any way I could.

How would you handle an invitation that stated, please only bring healthy foods?

What would your advice be to this lady if you were the advice columnist? 


23 thoughts on “Dear Ellie

  1. I’d bring healthy foods too. I’d also advise this lovely lady trying to lose weight to handle it exactly like a diabetic should. If people brought treats to my house after I asked them not to and then I couldn’t get anyone to take them home with them at the end of the party, she should cover them with dishsoap (so she wouldn’t be tempted to go back and eat them later) and throw them in the garbage. I’m not kidding. It’s a health issue as real as any other so sometimes “extreme” measures need to be taken.

    1. Dish soap! That will leave a bad taste in your mouth. It must be so hard for this lady. Food is such a huge part of holiday festivities. I love the idea of treating her weight loss as a diabetic would; eating these sugar-induced treats could be fatal.

  2. I don’t have a problem bringing only healthy foods. If at the time I think it’s not the party I want to attend, I just rsvp “no” since I may be in my “moderation” stage.

    My advice to her: Know who you invite and invite who you know. She should already know whose food she will be packing to go home. Of course, it will be a nice surprise if they don’t. She should have lots of games and activities to occupy the time. This occupies people from obsessing about what is next to go in their mouth. Healthy refreshments is just as important as food. Also, she could give example of what to bring in all stages of dinner: appetizer, greens, drinks…etc.

    1. Ellie should be worried her column will be Dear Vonnie. That is so true. The potential guest can always reply, won’t attend. For some a party might entail enjoying cake or pie or cookies because they have no issue around food or sugar addiction. Great idea with the games. It could possibly take over from the over-indulging.

  3. For sure I could! Eating healthy doesn’t mean boring. Eating plants only like me doesn’t mean boring! A lot of it however is down to willpower. Eat healthily for long enough, taste buds change and the not so healthy stuff isn’t appealing. It tastes false. That said temptation is always there. A little is okay, it’s the willpower needed not to overdo it. However the holiday season as the American say only comes once a year. You can indulge a little and enjoy life. Explain to others and maybe they’ll understand. If they push you’re being different and no longer like them, say I’m not in the mood to have this conversation. Make it a rule invite, healthy dishes only, here’s reference list! Make it a challenge who can make the tastiest healthiest dish. Worse scenario you can always tag on extra cardio, resistance training over the next few days/weeks to combat the extra goodies! Overcoming temptation and empowering will power is something amazing. But it takes a while to get there! Great post!

    1. I think Ellie should be worried about her job! It should be Dear Nat. I don’t know why people associate healthy foods with being dull and tasteless. One of the best things I have ever had at a party was a three bean dip with quinoa crackers.
      The taste buds will adjust after sometime. I love the idea of making it a holiday challenge. I think here in North America the indulging can get way out of hand.

      1. 🙂 my mum says I have a knack of saying the right thing/advice. Pity I don’t follow it. I make excuses all the time, but hate hearing them!
        It’s not just North America that over indulges. The UK most certainly does around Xmas and Spain this year. I’ve never seen the Christmas chocolates in the shops so early and never the amount they have on sale. In my local supermarket, they’ve reduced the fruit and veg section to accommodate them!

  4. This is such a great question. I think there might have been times when I wouldn’t understand – when I might have said I want to being a cake so I’ll just bring a cake.
    But after having struggles with weight issues myself, I am way more understanding. I think it would be great to be at a party where everything is a healthy option.

    1. Thank-you Karen. Me too definitely. When I was trying to lose weight a few years back, I knew the struggles so I could sympathize with this lady. If I didn’t know where she was coming from, I may be inclined to bring a sweet treat. If she was upfront and said, I can’t be around these foods at the moment, I would be very understanding. Healthy options only would be a welcome change for me at some parties.

  5. I always refrain from giving too much advice about food at the holidays. Its a touchy subject for alot of people because its rooted much bigger and deeper than just “temptation”. However, If I was randomly asked at the end of the day, I like Ellies generic response. I would sum it up by “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have…and pack up, ship back or toss whats leftover”

  6. I think it’s a great idea to ask people to bring healthy things! I’m so tempted by desserts too. There have been a lot of times I’ve just thrown leftover desserts away because I really don’t want me or my kids eating them! I figure it’s not a waste since I’d rather have them in the trash than in my body! Ha ha!

  7. I’d think this is fantastic! Time to change our culture on parties and Christmas gatherings. Especially when you KNOW that your friend is on a journey of getting healthy! Why wouldn’t you want to support that in any way you could. I hope she follows Ellie’s advice the the letter!

  8. I was remiss to mention that now in my 50’s (never had it before! ~ bothersome menopause lol!) that I also suddenly have that cumpulsion to binge eat on desserts and snacks if they’re in front of me. And like the Dear Ellie woman I also need to keep these foods far away from my cupboards in order to gain control. So I completely understand her delimma with temptation. And the best way for temptation is to keep it far away from you! Lol! As one commenter said if you gotta pour soap all over it then throw it away when everybody leaves ~ more power to you!

    1. Oh me too, girl! I’m no stranger to going over board with not the best choices. Thank goodness I really don’t have the stomach to tolerate over-indulgence these days. It makes me bloated, lethargic and generally yucky.
      That’s a great suggestion from Dr. Lynn. Dish soap will definitely stop the urge. Lol!

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