By Neal Wooten
Whoever first had the idea of going on a diet before the holidays was either a person of extreme conviction, or a fruitcake. Man, what I wouldn’t give for some fruitcake. I’ve been doing well for two months but knew this time of year would be difficult.
My oldest sister, Julene, had her family meal the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and, as always, it was a feast for kings. Her dressing is to die for, and, when smothered in her giblet gravy, is a taste sensation to kill for. But I remained strong. Of course I excused myself early because there were enough desserts there to choke a horse.
Because my mom had to work on Thanksgiving Day, we all decided to forego the traditional homemade meal and meet at Cracker Barrel. Given their menu, however, I knew it still wouldn’t be easy. But I was prepared. I had previewed their menu online and picked out a healthy grilled chicken salad. I was ready.
The place was packed as you might imagine, but the waitress finally got around to taking our orders. Everyone else was ordering full meals with dessert. I remained steadfast. Nothing was going to keep me from ordering my little salad and being satisfied with it. Finally it was my turn and I calmly said, “I’ll have the grilled chicken salad.”
The waitress frowned and said, “Sorry, sir, but you can’t order that.” I thought she was joking but she wasn’t. She explained that because of the Romaine lettuce E coli outbreak and recall, they were not taking any chances and had decided to serve no lettuce at all.
I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, and an empty stomach at that. I wanted to argue that there were a dozen other kinds of lettuce and that I would be quite happy with a simple iceberg variety, but I knew it wasn’t her decision. So I ordered one egg. One egg. One!
I’m happy to report that I made it through Thanksgiving without falling off the wagon so to speak, but I’m not out of the woods yet. We still have Christmas coming up in less than four weeks and that’s even worse. Not only will my family make the same foods for this holiday, but there’ll be the added temptation of all kinds of cookies, and candies, and treats. Oh my.
So to all my friends out there who are trying to diet through this holiday season; be strong. It can be done. When your family passes the gravy or offers a slice of the German Chocolate Cake, just remember the words of the great Nancy Reagan: “Just say no.”